Stun­ning loss to Trinidad leaves US out of World Cup

Jerusalem Post - - SPORTS -

The long­est, most ar­du­ous jour­ney for a US na­tional soc­cer team in a gen­er­a­tion was stopped just short of the fin­ish line Tues­day night, with Trinidad and Tobago deal­ing the Amer­i­cans a crush­ing 2-1 up­set just min­utes be­fore both Panama and Hon­duras won their fi­nal qualifiers.

The US started the day need­ing only a draw to reach its eighth con­sec­u­tive World Cup. In­stead, the three re­sults com­bined to drop the Amer­i­cans to fifth in the six-team CONCACAF tour­na­ment, ahead of only Trinidad.

“I never thought I’d see this day,” said Omar Gon­za­lez, who hadn’t been born the last time the US missed soc­cer’s big­gest event.

“It’s the worst day of my ca­reer,” con­tin­ued the former Los An­ge­les Galaxy de­fender, whose first-half own-goal was the dif­fer­ence be­tween the US go­ing on or go­ing home. “I don’t even know how to put into words what I’m feel­ing. We let down an en­tire na­tion to­day.”

Mex­ico, Costa Rica and Panama ad­vanced di­rectly to next sum­mer’s tour­na­ment – Panama with a con­tro­ver­sial 2-1 win over Costa Rica – while Hon­duras, with a 3-2 vic­tory over Mex­ico, qual­i­fied for a two-leg in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off with Aus­tralia next month with an ad­di­tional berth on the line.

The US, mean­while, ends its qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign one point shy of the World Cup.

“We had ev­ery­thing there for us to­day,” coach Bruce Arena said. “No ex­cuses. We should not be stay­ing home from this World Cup. And I take the re­spon­si­bil­ity for this.”

Arena was hired last Novem­ber, af­ter the US opened qual­i­fy­ing with con­sec­u­tive losses un­der Jur­gen Klins­mann. That left the new coach with eight games to res­cue the pro­gram and though he lost just two of his 18 games in charge, both came in World Cup qualifiers _ at home to Costa Rica last month and Tues­day in Trinidad. “We didn’t qual­ify for the World Cup,” Arena said. “That was the job, to get us to qual­ify for the World Cup. We failed.”

The last time the US went to the fi­nal day of qual­i­fy­ing with its World Cup sta­tus un­cer­tain was 1989, and that game was also played in Trinidad. That one ended more hap­pily for the Amer­i­cans, though, with Paul Caligiuri’s first-half goal be­fore a packed house in Trinidad’s na­tional sta­dium cli­max­ing a Cin­derella run that took the Amer­i­cans to their first World Cup in 40 years.

Un­til Tues­day, they hadn’t missed the tour­na­ment since.

“We weren’t good enough,” for­ward Jozy Alti­dore said. “We dug our­selves a big hole. We just weren’t able to deal with Trinidad at­tack­ing-wise.

“We have no­body else to blame but our­selves.”

(Reuters)

WITH AR­GENTINA fac­ing the dire pos­si­bil­ity of miss­ing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1970, its bril­liant cap­tain Lionel Messi (cen­ter) de­liv­ered when it mat­ter most with three goals in a 3-1 win over Ecuador on Tues­day night to help his coun­try book its place at next year’s tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

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