U.S. fans in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago were left stunned by the Americans' 2-1 loss that eliminated them from World Cup contention (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)
The United States men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals for the first time since 1986 after their 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday night.
The loss ends a streak of seven consecutive appearances for the U.S. at soccer's quadriennial showcase, dating back to 1990.
The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica last month left the Americans little margin for error.
The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat — coupled with Honduras' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres' 88th-minute goal — dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.
Panama received the last automatic qualifying spot, while Honduras will meet Australia in a playoff to determine one of 32 spots in next year’s tournament in Russia.
The U.S. surrendered two first-half goals, one an own goal by center back Omar Gonzalez. A second-half goal by 19-year-old star Christian Pulisic gave the U.S. hope, but the visitors could not muster the second goal they desperately needed.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.