Stunned US face ma­jor ques­tions after World Cup de­ba­cle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

COUVA: In one of the big­gest up­sets of this qual­i­fy­ing cy­cle, the United States failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years and now face some ma­jor ques­tions over the progress of the sport in the coun­try.

A 2-1 de­feat to an al­ready elim­i­nated Trinidad and Tobago meant the US fin­ished an em­bar­rass­ing fifth out of six teams in their CON­CA­CAF qual­i­fy­ing group. Mexico topped the stand­ings with Costa Rica in sec­ond place while the third au­to­matic spot went to Panama.

The Cen­tral Amer­i­can na­tion reached the World Cup for the first time in their his­tory thanks to a last gasp 2-1 win over Costa Rica, while Hon­duras ended fourth and will play Aus­tralia over two legs for a place in Rus­sia next year.

The im­pact of the US’s ab­sence will be felt at broad­cast­ers Fox, who take over cov­er­age of the World Cup from ESPN start­ing with the 2018 tour­na­ment and a host of spon­sors, such as Nike, who had been hop­ing for plenty of World Cup ex­po­sure.

But on a deeper level, the out­come raises a host of ques­tions about whether Amer­i­can soc­cer truly is pro­gress­ing. The coun­try did not fea­ture in any World Cup from 1954 to 1986, but after mak­ing it to Italia 90 and then host­ing the tour­na­ment them­selves in 1994, the game ap­peared to be on the rise.

The US reached the quar­ter-fi­nals in 2002 and more re­cently im­pressed in Brazil four years ago by reach­ing the sec­ond round, fin­ish­ing above Por­tu­gal in their group.

On the do­mes­tic front, Ma­jor League Soc­cer, which be­gan in 1996, has pro­duced a stable league for the first time in North Amer­ica and has grown to 22 teams, many play­ing in new soc­cer spe­cific sta­di­ums.

“This is an ut­ter em­bar­rass­ment, with the amount of money that is in Ma­jor League Soc­cer and in this sport, you can’t get a draw against Trinidad? You don’t de­serve to go the World Cup” said for­mer US striker Tay­lor Twell­man, now a tele­vi­sion pun­dit for ESPN. “If this fail­ure does not wake up ev­ery­one from US Soc­cer (Fed­er­a­tion) to Ma­jor League Soc­cer to ‘pay to play’ (youth soc­cer), to broad­cast­ers, ev­ery­thing, then we are all in­sane.” “That should never have hap­pened with the bil­lion dol­lars plus that is go­ing into MLS and youth soc­cer de­vel­op­ment but it did and every sin­gle per­son should look them­selves in the mir­ror,” he added.—Reuters

COUVA: United States’ Chris­tian Pulisic, right, jumps for a header with Trinidad and Tobago’s goal­keeper Adrian Fon­cette, left, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Daneil Cyrus, dur­ing World Cup qual­i­fy­ing soc­cer match in Couva, Trinidad. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.