United States manager Bruce Arena has described the team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as "a blemish," and he added there's "nothing wrong" with the country's football structure after Tuesday's shock 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago.
The Stars and Stripes pulled one back through Christian Pulisic after falling 2-0 behind but couldn't clinch the point they needed to qualify.
Arena appeared to understate the gravity of the matter in his post-match comments, per ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle:
"I think it's disappointing. It's a blemish for us. We should be not be staying home for this World Cup. I take responsibility for that.
"There's nothing wrong with what we're doing. Certainly as our league grows, it advances the national team program. We have some good young players come up.
"Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We're building a good system in our professional league. We have players playing abroad of some quality."
Carlisle described Arena's remarks as being delivered "in a manner that is likely to infuriate American fans everywhere," but the head coach appeared to take the term "no excuses" to mean there was almost no problem:
This will be the first World Cup since 1986 that the United States men's national team fail to feature in, having shown improvement over the past 15 years and making the round of 16 in each of the last two tournaments.
Podcaster Sam Vecenie even went so far as to say the Trinidad and Tobago loss was worst thing to happen to the United States team:
The USMNT eventually finished fifth out of six teams with just three wins from 10 outings—the same record as Panama and Honduras—and having failed to win one of their five away games.
Aside from what changes need to be made in U.S. football, Arena's comments are sure to go down poorly with the team hierarchy as well as fans, meaning changes in the current makeup may not be far away.