With an unlikely combination of results in the final Matchday of CONCACAF Qualifying, the U.S. Men’s National Team was eliminated from contention for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
After falling 2-1 to Trinidad & Tobago, the doomsday combination of a Honduras victory against Mexico (3-2) and a Panama win over Costa Rica (2-1) dropped the U.S. from third to fifth place in the Hexagonal. Panama qualified directly with its third place finish, while Honduras will face off against Australia in the intercontinental playoff.
A pair of improbable goals from the Socca Warriors in the first half gave the hosts a 2-0 lead and put the USA in the difficult position of needing to break down an opponent that kept 10 men behind the ball in the second half.
Christian Pulisic cut the deficit in half just minutes into the second stanza when his strike from the top of the box in the 47th minute found the back of the net. The U.S. continued to push forward and created numerous quality chances, but Trinidad goalkeeper Adrian Fonette was up to the task as he pulled off impressive saves to keep the lead.
Pulisic, Omar Gonzalez, Bobby Wood, and Darlington Nagbe all saw chances denied at the last moment by Fonette, while half-time substitute Clint Dempsey saw one of his two great chances hit the post flush and bounce out as time wound down.
USA: 1-Tim Howard, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 15-Jorge Villafaña (23-Kellyn Acosta, 72), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 21-Paul Arriola (8-Clint Dempsey, 46), 10-Christian Pulisic, 6-Darlington Nagbe (16-Benny Feilhaber, 84), 9-Bobby Wood, 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Geoff Cameron
Head coach: Bruce Arena
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: 22-Adrian Foncette, 5-Daneil Cyrus, 7-Nathan Lewis, 8-Khaleem Hyland (capt.), 9-Shahdon Winchester (20-Trevin Caesar, 78), 13-Curtis Gonzales, 16-Levi Garcia (3-Joevin Jones, 72), 17-Alvin Jones, 18-Triston Hodge (4-Kevon Villaroel, 81), 19-Kevan George, 23-Leston Paul
Subs not used: 1-Glenroy Samuel, 21-Gregory Ranjitsingh, 2-Kareem Moses, 6-Josiah Trimmingham, 10-Karl Duane Muckette, 11-Neil Benjamin, 12-Kathon St. Hillaire, 14-Akeem Roach, 15-Jared London
Head coach: Dennis Lawrence