Pending a successful appeal of the phantom goal scored by Panama two nights ago, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) will not be participating in the World Cup in Russia next summer. Yesterday’s outcomes produced the only scenario in which the USMNT would’ve been eliminated. This is the first time that the U.S. won’t be going to a World Cup since 1986.
To put this in perspective:
Trinidad and Tobago were the worst team in the Hex this time around, and there was one thing the U.S. needed to do: get ONE point.
Here were the standings before last night:
Courtesy of MLS
Green = Qualified
Honduras will face Australia in the Intercontinental Playoff
Courtesy of FIFA
Elimination may come as a shock, but the collapse was foreshadowed throughout the prior nine games of the Hexagonal. It all started in Columbus when Mexico turned a 1-0 deficit around to win 2-1. Early signs of the USMNT being unable to hold a lead showed, and it also marked the beginning of the end for former manager Jürgen Klinsmann. Then came the match in Costa Rica four days later that resulted in a 4-nil drubbing. As a Costa Rican I enjoyed the match, but Klinsmann surely didn’t. He was fired less than a week later. When Week 7 came around the U.S. was on track to qualify, but then came another blow to their qualification hopes. A 2-nil loss at home against Costa Rica. It was the first time that happened since, you guessed it, the last time that the U.S. missed the World Cup. The final nail in the coffin came last night with the loss to Trinidad and Tobago. Coming into the game the Soca Warriors had managed only three points in their first nine games in the Hexagonal. THREE from a possible TWENTY-SEVEN!
Your immediate reaction might be to place blame on Bruce Arena, and that’s fair, but the players deserve most of the criticism. In my previous post – USMNT: In or Out of the World Cup? – I said that defensive woes and poor judgement would lead to the USMNT’s demise. Now I don’t like saying it, but I TOLD YOU SO! The difference in the last game was an own goal. It’s a difference that cost us a trip to Russia next summer.