U.S. Men’s Soccer Team’s failure to qualify for World Cup leaves many disappointed

For the first time in over a decade, Team USA will not be competing in the World Cup

More stories from Scott Procter



After a less-than-stellar past year for U.S. Men’s Soccer, changes may be on the horizon.

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer team just did something that hasn’t happened since 1986 – fail to qualify for the World Cup.

In a match where the U.S. simply had to tie in order to qualify, the Americans lost to last-placed Trinidad and Tobago by a score of 2-1 last Tuesday. The loss put the U.S. in fifth place out of six teams in the final qualifying round, falling short of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The deciding game got off to an unfortunate start when the Americans’ Omar Gonzales shanked an attempt to clear a cross, sending it in over the head of U.S. goalie Tim Howard. A long-range goal by Trinidad and Tobago’s Alvin Jones gave the team a 2-0 lead at halftime. Christian Pulisic, a budding young star, added the only goal for the Americans in the match just after halftime.

Suni Gulati, the United States Soccer Federation president, voiced his displeasure with his team’s performance, saying the result was “not good enough.”

“We certainly expected to qualify, throughout the process, and especially after Friday night,” Gulati said. “It’s a huge disappointment for everybody; the players, the staff, the coaches, the federation.”

The U.S. missing the World Cup for the first time in a decade was not a direct result of one match, but rather a culmination of shortcomings.

A poor showing in early qualification games led to the firing of manager Jurgen Klinsman in November 2016 and the hiring of Bruce Arena, who previously led the Americans from 1998-2006. Arena had a promising start to his second stint as coach, winning a Gold Cup and attaining the longest undefeated streak to start a U.S. Men’s National Team coaching tenure.

But a loss to Costa Rica and a tie with Honduras in September left Team USA in a predicament they found themselves in Tuesday night: Win, draw or go home. While the situation was not ideal, the Americans, who have been mainstays of the World Cup for longer than my lifetime, had to have liked their chances to at least tie against the 99th ranked (at the time) team in the world.

Michael Bradley, U.S. midfielder, put the team’s loss in perfect perspective.

“The reality is that it was all there for us,” Bradley said. “And we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”

The disappointment of Team USA’s loss exists not only within the organization, but also on the campus of UW-Eau Claire.

Maxwell Inskeep, a member of Eau Claire’s men’s soccer team, said he was very upset by the U.S.’s inability to qualify for the World Cup.

“It’s frustrating,” Inskeep said. “Having to watch the World Cup knowing that your country is not even competing in it is difficult.”

Like the U.S. Soccer Federation did last November with the firing of Klinsman, disgruntled fans may be calling for a similar change of leadership after another let down from the Americans. Inskeep is one who would be in favor of some changes at the top of the U.S. Men’s Soccer program.

“There should definitely be some management changes,” Inskeep said. “I don’t believe U.S. Soccer is managing their money wisely or making the right decisions. I think there needs to be an overhaul in changes around the entire program.”

Whatever Team USA decides to do moving forward, the pressure is mounting. With the U.S. Women’s Soccer team thriving (3-time Women’s World Cup Champion) and the interest of soccer growing rapidly in the United States, the time is now for men’s soccer to win.