Putin hacks US football team as it fails to qualify for WC
Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Dammit Putin, he just had to hack the US national team during their visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

There's no other way to describe it: This was a debacle on a countless number of levels.

The task seemed straightforward enough -- avoid defeat and you're in. But as it has so often during this World Cup cycle, the U.S. insisted on making life as difficult as possible and now has paid the ultimate price, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since the 1986 cycle.

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute on an own goal by Omar Gonzalez. Alvin Jones doubled the home side's advantage 20 minutes later with a 30-yard blast that cleanly beat U.S. keeper Tim Howard.

Even worse was that Trinidad and Tobago was fully deserving of its lead. U.S. striker Jozy Altidore missed a massive opportunity in the seventh minute when he blasted a shot over the crossbar, but after that, the Soca Warriors were stringing passes all over the Ato Boldon Stadium pitch, making the U.S. chase. The home side was also finding opportunities in transition, which was the last thing the U.S. wanted given T&T's speed and athleticism.

The Americans looked slow and lethargic and showed none of the energy that characterized their 4-0 hammering of Panama four days earlier. Certainly, the sparse crowd meant there was little atmosphere in the stadium initially, though it grew more lively as the game wore on. But with a World Cup berth on the line, one would have expected more urgency from the U.S. players, yet not enough was on display.

Manager Bruce Arena brought on Clint Dempsey for the disappointing Paul Arriola, and the U.S. was soon back in the match as Christian Pulisic's drive from distance in the 47th minute halved the deficit.

The game became a track meet thereafter, with the U.S. pressing and T&T trying to strike on the counter. Howard kept the U.S. in the match, saving Shahdon Winchester's shot midway through the second half. Dempsey hit the post in the 77th minute with a shot from distance. Bobby Wood was denied late on a fine save by T&T keeper Adrian Foncette.

That was as close as the U.S. got. Now it will have the coming months to contemplate how this World Cup qualification got away.


Latest News