The United States men’s team has missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, following a stunning loss to Trinidad and Tobago Tuesday evening. It will be the first time the U.S. team will be excluded from the event since 1986.
The team from Trinidad and Tobago, which has been out of World Cup contention for months, beat Team USA 2-1.
“We played poorly. The first goal was unfortunate, the second was an incredible shot. There is nothing wrong with what we are doing” in U.S. Soccer, Coach Bruce Arena said after the game. “We didn’t qualify for the World Cup, and that was my job... to qualify.”
Arena came on board after coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired at the end of 2016 following a series of losses by Team USA in a bout of regional qualifying matches for next year’s World Cup.
The FIFA World Cup is a month-long men’s tournament played every four years. It features 32 teams from around the globe.
There are three direct qualification spots reserved for nations in CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.
The top six CONCACAF nations have been playing off for those spots since November 2016, and the U.S. was well positioned before Tuesday’s final round of games, sitting third in the standings.
But while U.S. lost to bottom-ranked Trinidad and Tobago, fifth-place Honduras beat top-ranked Mexico and fourth-place Panama upset No. 2 Costa Rica.
This unlikely trio of results left the U.S. languishing in fifth place in the standings, while Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama now qualify automatically for the World Cup. Honduras will play a two-leg qualification series with Australia next month for a final spot in the World Cup.
“You either qualify for the World Cup or you don’t,” Michael Bradley, captain of the U.S. team, said Monday, according to The New York Times. “There’s no extra points for how you qualify. There’s no extra points for even qualifying first, or second, or third.”
Next year’s World Cup will take place in Russia.
HuffPost Australia’s Anthony Sharwood contributed to this report.