Clint Dempsey USA bench 2017-10-10
USA Today Sports

United States men’s national team fails to qualify for World Cup for first time since 1986

The United States men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday following a 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago. This is the first time the U.S. has missed the World Cup since 1986.

An Omar Gonzalez own goal in the 17th minute followed by a golazo from Alvin Jones in the 37th minute gave the already-eliminated Soca Warriors an improbable 2-0 lead at halftime at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Christian Pulisic gave the U.S. life just two minutes after halftime when his goal cut the deficit in half, but the United States could not find an equalizer.

With the U.S. loss and Panama and Honduras’ wins, Panama finished third in the CONCACAF Hexagonal to automatically qualify for Russia, Honduras finished fourth to compete in a home-and-home intercontinental playoff against Australia and the United States finished fifth and failed to qualify. Panama join Mexico and Costa Rica as CONCACAF’s automatic representatives.

Román Torres’ 87th-minute game-winning goal for Panama over Costa Rica eliminated the U.S., who entered Tuesday with a 97-percent chance to at least qualify for the playoff.

Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey came on as a substitute at halftime and provided the U.S.’ best chance at an equalizer when his shot rattled off the post. Earlier in the second half, he forced Trinidad goalkeeper Adrian Foncette into a difficult diving save.

Dempsey will finish the World Cup Qualifying schedule still tied with Landon Donovan for first on the all-time USMNT goalscoring record with 57. He is the only American to score in three World Cups and will miss out on his fourth.

Sounders forward Jordan Morris (injury) and midfielder Cristian Roldan (not selected) did not factor in the final two WCQs, and each would have likely been considered for the U.S.’ 23-man World Cup roster next year. Morris, 22, has five goals in 24 caps, including the game-winner in this past summer’s Gold Cup Final. Roldan, 22, made his senior debut during the Gold Cup group stage.

The Sounders’ internationals will return to Seattle this week in preparation for the penultimate match of the regular season on Sunday against FC Dallas (4:30 p.m. PT; FS1, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).