As you may have heard, Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup. The ramifications of that decision are some distance beyond the remit of this piece, with the exception of one detail: Qatar has seven years to put together a team capable of giving good account of itself as host nation of the major international soccer tournament.
This has led the Gulf state to channel (more) resources toward its youth development programs. The most tangible evidence of success in this endeavor would appear to be in the current U-20 cohort, which won the Asian U-19 championship in 2014 and is now competing in the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
A Qatari men's team hasn't appeared in the Olympic soccer tournament since 1992, but the country has good reason to hope it will add to that record at the 2016 edition of the summer games: it is hosting the Asian qualifying competition in January 2016.
Consequently, since its U-20s are busy in New Zealand anyway, Qatar is treating the Toulon tournament in much the same way as the USA: preparation for Olympic qualifying.
The Qatari squad in Toulon includes players from the country's top domestic clubs: 2014-15 league champion, Lekhwiya; runner-up and future home to Xavi Hernandez, Al Sadd; third-placed El Jaish. But there are few on the roster who logged significant minutes for their respective first teams this season.
Initial results in this tournament have been disappointing: a 2-0 loss to France (a U-20 team, remember) and a 5-1 thumping from the Netherlands U-21s.
Still, like every team in Toulon, Qatar's objective is not to win any particular game but to identify players who will contribute to its cause in the major competitive tournaments of the future - starting with the 2016 Olympics. Modest results this summer will be forgiven if they contribute to success next year, and in the senior tournaments beyond.
For the USA, this could be the last game in this year's Toulon tournament. The team must win and hope for a fortuitous combination of results in the remaining Group A matches if it is to continue to have a role in the competition. And that role would be a spot in the third-place playoff game on June 7, since both France and the Netherlands already have six points and are yet to play each other.
At least one of those two teams is guaranteed to finish with more points than the US, who will be hoping to beat Qatar and for France to win its remaining games in order for Andi Herzog's U23s to have a shot at playing after the group stage concludes.