What are we supposed to make of the Club World Cup?
It seems impossible to pin down. The gulf between what it ought to be and what it is feels massive, with so much importance left on the table. It’s somehow simultaneously the championship of the world and a distraction from more important competitions. It's a unique benchmark that comes in the form of a meaningless pre-/mid-season tournament. It's got so many contradictory implications that it ought to have canceled itself out by now.
As of this writing, the tournament has not yet winked out of existence like some omnipotent villain out-clevered by a plucky hero. (Instead, FIFA has announced plans to expand it.) The Seattle Sounders, the first-ever representatives from Major League Soccer, are still set to play Egypt's Al Ahly in their first game of the tournament on Saturday. Seattle are one game away from facing Real Madrid in a competitive match, where they will show that hydra of precocious Brazilians and ageless European megastars who's boss before cruising through a final against one of the South American, Asian, or African champions.