All the U.S. men’s national soccer team needed to earn a berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was a win on a soggy field in Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night.
Instead, the U.S. fell behind by two goals in the first half and dropped a stunning 2-1 decision to the host team, which eliminated the U.S. from qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
With the loss, the U.S. men needed Honduras and Panama to both lose or tie with Mexico and Costa Rica, respectively, but Honduras defeated Mexico 3-2 and Panama defeated Costa Rica 2-1 to eliminate the American hopes for a play-in game against Australia next month.
U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez scored an own goal on a ball that looped over Tim Howard to put Trinidad and Tobago on top, and Alvin Jones added another one to put Trinidad and Tobago up 2-0. He sent a rising shot over Howard into the side panel for his first goal for the team.
Trinidad and Tobago took the 2-0 gap into halftime, but 19-year-old Christian Pulisic made it 2-1 in the 47th minute on a right-footed shot from the top of the 18 that deflected off a TandT defender.
Despite the soggy field, the U.S. pushed on and Clint Dempsey hit the post in the 78th minute to add to the U.S. frustration.
The loss marked only the second for the U.S. in Trinidad, the first since a semifinal round loss in 2008 when the U.S. had already clinched a World Cup berth. The U.S. is now 18-3-4 all-time against Trinidad and Tobago and 13-2-3 in World Cup qualifiers.