Trinidad and Tobago 2, United States 1 | 2017 World Cup Qualifying Recap
Paul Caligiuri, meet Alvin Jones.
With the US national team needing only a draw to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Jones' bombastic strike late in the first half helped Trinidad and Tobago seal a stunning 2-1 victory that sent shockwaves around CONCACAF and will keep the Americans home next summer.
Jones goal ends the Americans' streak of consecutive World Cup appearance at seven. That began at Italia '90, just months after Caligiuri's strike against Trinidad and Tobago in a 1-0 victory that sent the US to their first World Cup in 40 years.
With Panama and Honduras both winning, the Americans finished one point behind both in the race for CONCACAF's third and final automatic berth for the 2018 tournament in Russia. Panama qualifies for the tournament outright based on goal difference, while Honduras faces a two-legged playoff with Australia.
Jones' strike came 20 minutes after a mystifying own goal off Omar Gonzalez's mis-hit clearance. Christian Pulisic scored his seventh goal of qualifying early in the second half. But Adrian Foncette denied both Clint Dempsey and Benny Feilhaber good looks at an equalizer as an already eliminated T&T side played the ultimate spoiler.
- 17' - TRI - Omar Gonzalez (OG)
- 37' - TRI - Alvin Jones
- 47' - USA - Christian Pulisic
- IT COULD'VE BEEN WORSE: While Trinidad and Tobago's opener certainly owed a bit to good fortunate, the US were perhaps fortunate not to suffer an even more embarrassing scoreline. Gonzalez's challenge just moments after the opener and DeAndre Yedlin's lunge 14 minutes into the second half both could've resulted in penalties for the hosts. Also in the second half, Yedlin had a last-gasp goal line clearance and Howard denied Shahdon Winchester from close range.
- TIME FOR CHANGES: Of all the coaching decisions Bruce Arena has made during his MLS and international coaching career, none will be more second-guessed than his decision to field the same Starting XI that played four days earlier in a 4-0 rout of Panama. By the time he made his first sub, bringing on Dempsey for Paul Arriola at the half, the Yanks were two goals behind following a sluggish opening 45 minutes.
- THE BAR WAS LOW: The US finishes CONCACAF's Hexagonal round of qualifying with 12 points, five fewer than it earned in any previous qualifying cycle since the format began. Panama's 13 points are the fewest ever earned by a third-place team in the format, one less than Jamaica earned in the 1998 qualifying cycle. The Americans did earn one point more than fourth-place Mexico in the 2014 cycle. Mexico qualified after winning a playoff with New Zealand.