USA Fails to Qualify for 2018 World Cup with 2-1 Loss to Trinidad and Tobago

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2017

United States' Christian Pulisic, front, fights for control of the ball with Trinidad and Tobago's Nathan Lewis during a 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Couva, Trinidad, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

The United States' 2018 World Cup dream is dead.

A shocking 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in Tuesday night's last qualifying match, combined with wins by Honduras and Panama, eliminated the U.S. from World Cup contention.

An Omar Gonzalez own goal in the 17th minute and Alvin Jones goal in the 37th gave Trinidad and Tobago their two scores. Christian Pulisic got the United States back within one goal in the 47th minute, but Bruce Arena's team tried and failed time and again to knot the match up over the final 48 minutes (including extra time).

This is the first time since 1986 that the United States failed to qualify for a World Cup.

Heading into Tuesday, the U.S. was seemingly a mortal lock to make the trip to Russia. A win while heavily favored would have guaranteed a qualification. Barring a remarkable blowout win by Honduras or Panama, a draw also likely would have clinched a spot. Even a loss and a win by one of those two teams would have only dropped the U.S. into a playoff.

Instead, doomsday struck United States soccer.

Playing on a field that drew criticism from many players due to its water-logged surface, the United States got off to a markedly slow start. Trinidad and Tobago got on the board early when Gonzalez deflected a cross over goalie Tim Howard. Jones pushed the margin to 2-0 with a solid strike on the right side of the goal, and the U.S. went into halftime looking dejected.

They instantly sprang to life in the second half on the back of Pulisic, the 19-year-old who threw the United States on his back during qualifying and will be robbed of an opportunity of a star-making appearance in Russia. His goal from outside the penalty box soared past Adrian Foncette and seemingly put the momentum back in the U.S.'s favor.

The remainder of the game was the United States missing opportunity after opportunity. They finished the match holding possession for 61 percent of the time and had 15 shot attempts, only five of which went on goal. Contrast that with a Trinidad attack that matched the United States' five shots on goal on only 11 attempts.

This is nothing short of a disaster for Arena, whose job status will undoubtedly come into question in the aftermath of this loss. The 66-year-old took over for a second stint as USMNT coach last November after the departure of Jurgen Klinsmann, but the result has been nothing short of disappointing.


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