On October 10th 2017, the United States took on Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifying match. The task was simple win or tie and move on to Russia for the 2018 World Cup. With a loss the U.S. could find themselves watching the World Cup on the television instead of playing in it. According to fivethirtyeight, the win probability for the United States was over 80%. Trinidad was the worst team in the group. If there was ever a sure thing in soccer, this was it. The United States had beaten Trinidad and Tobago several months earlier 2-0. United States soccer was on the rise. In the 2014, The United States came out of a group with Germany and Portugal to make it to the round of 16 losing to one of the major European powers in Belgium. Soccer had been making strides in the U.S. and 2018 was suppose to be another big step in the right direction. The fate of United States men soccer rested on this one game. 17 minutes into the game, Trinidad and Tobago was pushing up the ride side. It did not look they had much. The U.S. defenders were in a solid position. Both attacking Trinidad and Tobago players were marked and both U.S. defenders were between their players and the goal. The right winger crossed the ball into the middle, a few yards inside the box. Omar Gonzalez stepped in as a good center back should and got his foot on the ball to stop the attack. This was as simple as it gets one on one, defender is in a good position, he steps in and kicks the ball away to stop the attack. This is something Gonzales has practiced and done in game hundreds if not thousands of time. This time something went wrong. The ball hit off Gonzales foot and did not go out of harm’s way. The ball went backwards and started going towards the goal. Tim Howard could not have expected this. He trusted his center back just a little too much. Before he knew it the ball was almost at the goal. Tim Howard dove after the ball, but it was too late, the ball had already sailed over his outstretched arm. It was an own goal by Omar Gonzalez: 1-0 Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago went on to win the game 2-1. The United States were no longer going to be in the 2018 World Cup. All the promise, all the excitement, all the glory was crushed by this one game. All the headlines called this the worst loss in U.S Soccer history. How could there be a World Cup without the greatest country on the planet? Everything the U.S. had built up over the past decade was gone. The 2014 World Cup round of 16, the 2016 Copa America semi final visit, the 2017 Concacaf championship all meant nothing now. The United States now has to hit the restart button. Everyone will be looking towards the 2022 World Cup qualification, but for now United States men’s soccer will take a back seat.
Michael Caley, Geoff Foster and Neil Paine. “The Worst Loss In The History Of U.S. Men’s Soccer.” FiveThirtyEight, FiveThirtyEight, 11 Oct. 2017, fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-worst-loss-in-the-history-of-u-s-mens-soccer/.
“Trinidad and Tobago vs. United States – Football Match Summary – October 10, 2017.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, www.espn.com/soccer/match?gameId=466968.