Being a sports fan in general, the World Cup was and still is my favorite platform to view top notch soccer. That being said, with the United States not making the World Cup for the first time since 1986 I feel a strange guilt. Watching the United States in years past in the World Cup was a huge driving factor in continuing my love for the sport.
The United States mens team did not set themselves up perfectly for success, but a tie or win over Trinidad would push them into the World Cup. Should they lose and Panama and Honduras post wins over Mexico and Costa Rica then they would be out. In an unfortunate series of events everything that could go wrong did. They United States lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, and both Honduras and Panama won their matches. Just like that the United States would not qualify for the World Cup next summer in Russia. Re-watching the U.S. Trinidad and Tobago game, it is evident that the game was not going well from the start with the American’s own goal. The play seemingly routine, United States defender Omar Gonzalez and Trinidad forward Shahdon Winchester play out a ball in front of goal keeper Tim Howard. In a sudden change of events however, the ball is played off of Winchester which then bounces off Gonzalez’s shin and finds its way over Tim Howard’s head.
I think this moment was a turning point in the game. The United States could either rally behind the own goal, and use it as driver to push them forward and give them the added inspiration to play harder and faster, or it could completely deflate them and send the team spiraling. Not only was the own goal pivotal in those rights, but it propelled the Trinidad into the game. They were knocked out of the race for the World Cup months ago, so were playing with nothing to lose. This makes the dangerous, and now the U.S. is trailing.
This is compounded by the U.S. going down 0-2 in the 36th minute with a goal from Alvin Jones. At this point it seemed like the lethargic U.S. team didn’t have the motivation or mental fortitude to get back in the game. Though it was early, body language is hard to hide on the pitch.
The U.S. men’s team seems to come out of the locker room with fresh legs and rejuvenated team as Christian Pulisic scores a quick goal. This is followed by several near misses in the second half, including one ringing off the crossbar.
To say the least, this game was tough to watch. It seemed like a culmination of bad-luck and several tough runs throughout the season. I’ll still watch the World Cup, but it’ll be different rooting for a team other than the United States.