The last World Cup that didn’t feature the United States was in 1986. That was 31 years ago. Over the past few years, soccer has grown tremendously in the U.S. and has become a major sports industry. Many professional teams have been added to the Major League Soccer (MLS) in America. The teams in the league attract 71,000 fans for a regular season match and put hopes into young children who want to grow up and be just like the pros.
The U.S. National Team’s unexpected 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago left the team devastated that they would not be competing in the 2018 World Cup. It is said that the arrogance of the team is what left them spotless in the Cup. The 3.5 World Cup spots out of six teams meant that the U.S. should be a lock to qualify. The U.S. 4-0 victory over Panama put the men in a spot where they just needed to take care of business against Trinidad and Tobago. The players and coaches watched their futures and fame fall to shambles. The team, staff and fans are embarrassed that the empire they have built has fallen so suddenly.
After the game, many emotional players commented on the performance of the team and individuals. Defender Omar Gonzales, who scored the first own goal, said it was the worst day of his career, and it will haunt him forever. He feels like he’s let down an entire nation.
U.S. captain Michael Bradley, who played the full 90 minutes, said, “Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did. The reality is it was all there for us, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Michael Bradley is right. The U.S. deserved to drop all the points it did during this qualifying campaign. Throughout the game, there were no horrible calls by the referee and no lucky chances by the other team. The U.S. simply did not perform. This American failure was due to repeated flaws that were exposed numerous times over the last 12 months. If you can’t qualify from one of the easiest and most forgiving regional competitions on Earth, how are you going to compete at a World Cup?
U.S. Head Coach Bruce Arena stated that he is unsure of the future for the U.S. Men’s National Team. There is a lot of scouting to do and changes to be made. He said they will evaluate everything that happened through the games and start looking at the current national team and the developmental teams. The staff is now looking to make a major change after Arena resigned following the embarrassing loss.
The U.S. Men’s National Team will have to wait at least five years for another chance at a World Cup appearance. Until then, the U.S. will be out of the forefront of American sports, all because they let 95 minutes slip away, erasing 31 years of progress.
By Kylie Sharp, guest writer