Would you ever cut off your nose to spite your face?
While most MLSsoccer.com readers will have little trouble answering "No" to that question, Tuesday night's final round of CONCACAF group stage World Cup qualifiers offers US national team fans the next best, real life alternative to the barbaric analogy.
Would you sacrifice an American loss if it meant Mexico potentially missing out on the World Cup?
El Tri currently sit in fourth place in the Hexagonal round of qualifying standings — good enough for the two-game playoff against New Zealand in November; three points ahead of them are Honduras, needing only a point to secure automatic qualification in third place; Panama, three points behind Mexico in fifth, desperately want the playoff place in fourth.
The premise is simple: A victory for the USMNT on Tuesday night against Panama secures passage for Mexico into at least the playoff stage. A Panamanian victory over the USMNT then puts all the pressure on Mexico to earn any result against Costa Rica, otherwise their 2014 World Cup dream is all but over.
The Americans already qualified for Brazil last month when they beat Mexico 2-0 in Columbus. In fact, their win Friday night against Jamaica ensured they would finish first in the Hex. So what's there to gain for Jugen Klinsmann's side, when there's still so much to lose for their most bitter, hated rivals?
Mexico finish third, if: Mexico beat Costa Rica by more goals than by which Honduras lose to Jamaica
Mexico finish fourth, if: Mexico beat Costa Rica and Honduras beat or draw Jamaica; Mexico draw or lose and Panama draw or lose; Mexico lose by one goal while scoring three or more goals (4-3, 5-4, etc.) than Panama in a one-goal win (1-0, 2-1, etc.)
Mexico finish fifth, if: Mexico lose to Costa Rica by more goals than by which Panama beat United States, or Mexico fail to score three more goals than Panama in a pair of one-goal results
Can you do it, USMNT fans? Will you be able to root against an American loss if it means Mexico missing out on the World Cup? Or better yet, will you merely accept the result if it happens while not rooting your national team to fail?
Or should the USMNT be aiming to do Mexico a favor for the good of the CONCACAF region, considering Mexico would likely fare better at next year's tournament than Panama?
On the other hand, Mexico fans: Could you ever cheer for a Mexican loss if it were the United States in the position you find yourself in Tuesday night?