The short version is easy enough: Trinidad and Tobago upset the US Mens National Team in soccer Tuesday night, and the 2-1 loss means that the Americans won't qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. But just how bad a loss is this? The defeat is "the most surreal and embarrassing night in US soccer history," writes Grant Wahl for Sports Illustrated. "Unthinkable," declares the New York Times. "With that loss, the USMNT gave a nation the lowest point in its sporting history, and it’s not really close," writes Andrew Joseph for USA Today. "It took 90-plus minutes for United States soccer to regress 30 years," writes Frank Isola at the Daily News. The kicker is that two other games fell the wrong way in unexpected fashion, one on a "phantom goal," sealing the US fate.
Honduras rallied from two goals down to beat Mexico, and Panama rallied from one goal back to beat Costa Rica. Had either of those games gone the other way, or had the US even tied Trinidad and Tobago (which had previously been eliminated from qualifying), the Americans would have secured a spot in Russia for the 2018 competition. Of note:
- Phantom goal: The winning goal scored by Panama against Costa Rica didn't cross the goal line, per CBS Sports, which has video here. The story raises the faint hope that the US could appeal the goal ruling, but it seems unlikely. "As far as I know, there is no recourse," says a US soccer official.
- Pity Fox Sports: The network paid $200 million, outbidding ESPN, for the rights to televise the 2018 World Cup and showcase teen phenom Christian Pulisic, notes Business Insider. It's now going to be tough for that investment to pay off.
- Five culprits: Yahoo Sports looks at what went wrong in the US game, and why Bruce Arena has almost certainly coached his last game for the team.