USA soccer fans were handed a ray of hope by the Under-17s national side following the USMNT’s unceremonious exit from next year’s soccer World Cup finals in Russia. The senior men’s team’s ignominious exit from the competition was delivered by Trinidad and Tobago who finished the game 2-1 winners. Had the US managed to force a draw, that would have been enough to see them through; but sadly, the plain truth is that they were just not good enough.
US senior men’s soccer team plotted their own downfall
Although Trinidad and Tobago will take the ultimate credit for knocking the US men’s team out of the competition, the US team itself planted the seeds for their failure earlier on; by underperforming in the previous matches in the last year; matches that tool places in Columbus, Ohio; Harrison, NJ., in San Jose, Costa Rica; and in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It meant that defeat occasioned by the sub-standard performance in Couva, West Central Trinidad would be the last straw – and so it turned out to be.
Bad luck begets more bad luck
When your luck is down, it sets a precedent. So it turned out to be for defender Omar Gonzalez, who saw T&Ts first goal rebound off his shin to cross the line into the U.S. net for an ill timed own goal. It is something that will stay in the player’s consciousness until his dying day.
To make matters worse, the defeat of the USMNT gifted an opportunity to Panama and Honduras. Both needed a victory, and both got one. Honduras came from behind twice to end up beating Mexico, while Panama netted a near last minute winner to up-end Costa Rica.
It’s the first time that the US has failed to qualify for the World Cup finals since 1986.
A crushing blow to US World Cup soccer aspirations
The fans were of course devastated, but that’s not all. It’s also a crushing blow for soccer in the US. Involvement in Russia in 2018 would have been a great promotion for the sport, but the next opportunity in now another 4 years distant.
But if the immediate future looks black for the US men’s senior soccer team, the same cannot be said for the under 17s who on Monday 16th October beat Paraguay in a crushing 5 – 0 defeat in front of 34,895 fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. What makes the win even sweeter is that the Paraguayans were previously undefeated.
The eyes of the nation
The US men’s U-17 team had a lot to play for. Just before the game against Panama, Coach Jack Hackworth messaged the team to let them know that following the bitter disappointment of the senior team, the nation’s eyes were now on them.
The U-17s shouldered the responsibility and responded brilliantly with a magnificent team performance that contained several individual star performances, none better that that of young Tim Weah, the man of the match.
The beacon burns bright
While the seniors went out of the World Cup with a whimper, the U-17s now advance to the quarter finals of the FIDA U-17s World Cup. It should give the nation much to cheer for following the seniors shock exit just a few days before. They say that every cloud has a silver lining and there’s no doubt that the US U-17s men’s soccer team beacon is shining brightly. For anyone who likes to have a little flutter, the U-17s US men’s soccer team, could well prove to be a good bet in the 2018 U-17s World Cup finals.
Serious future contenders
If these young players can maintain this sort of form and make the transition to the senior side for the 2022 World Cup, US soccer could well have some serious contenders on its hands.