Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 — 2
United States 0-1 — 1
The United States has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup qualifying. An uninspiring start for the United States not only cost the USMNT the match, but the team will miss the most important soccer tournament in the world.
Two early goals proved to doom the U.S. It is a major upset as Trinidad only managed to win one of its previous eight matches. The USMNT were trailing 2-0 at the half, but the other CONCACAF results were working in their favor. Late comebacks from Panama and Honduras cost the United States a trip to Russia.
The United States sat in third place heading into tonight’s match. The top three teams in CONCACAF automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Despite coming off a dominant 4-0 victory over Panama, the USMNT still needed to win tonight’s match to guarantee a spot in Russia.
While the United States appeared to be the better team heading into the match, Trinidad was playing with little pressure. Prior to the match, USA’s manager Bruce Arena told U.S. Soccer he expected an aggressive Trindad team tonight.
“They have no pressure on them,” Arena told US Soccer. “They’ve been playing some new players and I think they’re going to be playing with a lot of freedom. They can be very aggressive – no one from Trinidad is going to be suspended for the first game of the World Cup, so they can have an aggressive mentality, they can have a loose spirit and they’re going to be a real difficult team to play against, so we have to be at our best.”
Arena prediction proved correct.
Here’s how the United States missed the World Cup.
Trinidad Scored on a USA Own Goal
After a sluggish start, things got even worse for the USMNT. At the 16′ mark, Trinidad scored on an own goal. Omar Gonzalez went to clear the ball for the United States, and it sailed directly over Tim Howard for a Trinidad goal. The USMNT looked in real danger from the very start the match.
The U.S. is playing in front of a half empty (at best) stadium, and you have to wonder if there was a letdown after the atmosphere in Orlando for their big win over Panama.
Alvin Jones Scored a Wonder Goal to Give Trinidad a 2-0 Lead
Alvin Jones pulled up between midfield and the box on a miraculous wonder goal for Trinidad. The ball found the top left corner of the net. It was Jones first international goal. The United States were in deep trouble.
The only silver lining was both Mexico and Costa Rica were winning at the time the United States trailed. If things would have held, the USMNT would have remained in third and advanced to the World Cup.
If Costa Rica & Mexico Win, the United States Would Have Qualified for the World Cup
As bad as things seemed for the United States, their result would not have mattered if both Costa Rica and Mexico won their matches. At halftime, Costa Rica led Panama 1-0, while Mexico was up 2-1 on Honduras.
Things took a turn for the worst as Panama and Honduras made massive comebacks to end up with victories. It was a combination of the USA’s loss combined with getting no help from the other CONCACAF teams that sealed the USMNT’s fate.
The USMNT’s Christian Pulisic Scored a Goal at the Start of the 2nd Half
The United States started off the second half much more aggressive. Christian Pulisic scored a goal just two minutes into the half. Pulisic delivered a strike at the top of the box that was just out of reach of Trinidad.
It proved to be too little, too late as the United States were not close to scoring again.