Where to start? There will be huge repercussions in US Soccer now. Bruce Arena came in as a short-term replacement to seal qualification after Jurgen Klinsmann’s firing. One imagines a new coach will come in.
Sunil Gulati, the US Soccer president, is up for re-election next year. His future is certainly on the line. And you can be sure it will be the end of the line for many veteran players such as Clint Dempsey, Brad Guzan and Tim Howard.
And poor Christian Pulisic, the wonder boy who has done so much for the US. He will now not get the chance to show his stuff on the biggest stage.
FULL-TIME: Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 USA
USA have lost here and are eliminated for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
90min (+1): Trinidad and Tobago hit a free-kick just wide.
89min: Panama have gone 2-1 up against Costa Rica. This is the stuff of nightmares for USA.
87min: Benny Feilhaber comes close with a header but it is saved.
86min: The clock is ticking for USA. They are currently in fourth – they could finish fifth (and out completely) if Panama score.
83min: Here comes the US cavalry… Benny Feilhaber replaces Darlington Nagbe.
77min: Clint Dempsey hits the post. The agony goes on. Trevin Caesar replaces Shahdon Winchester for Trinidad and Tobago.
74min: Some substitutions. Kellyn Acosta replaces Jorge Flores Villafaña for the USA and, for the home side, Joevin Jones is on for Levi García.
58min: DeAndre Yedlin comes to USA’s rescue with a last-gasp tackle.
53min: Panama have equalized… and so have Honduras. USA are still going through but that will change if Panama or Honduras win.
An email from Justin Kavanagh: “Regardless of whether they qualify tonight or not, on this performance Bruce Arena is yesterday’s man. The US are being outplayed and outfought, and worse, outthought by a team of journeymen. Yes it’s a bad pitch, but it’s bad for both teams.”
GOAL! Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 USA (Pulisic 47)
And just like that, Christian Pulisic immediately puts the USA back in the game with a deflected strike from distance. Game on!
46min: The USA kick off for the second half and Clint Dempsey is on for Paul Arriola.
Meanwhile, Argentina are on course to reach Russia thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick. They are 3-1 up over Ecuador.
Bruce Arena, you would think, must make some changes – and quickly – in a bid to get something from this game.
45min: The referee blows his half-time whistle. USA have been dreadful here and on this performance do not deserve to go to Russia at all. And yet – and yet – due to results elsewhere they will as things stand.
44min: Jones strikes again from distance and Howard saves with his shoulder. USA are hanging on by their fingertips here.
41min: Meanwhile, Mexico are 2-1 up over Honduras and Costa Rica are 1-0 ahead over Panama. USA are, improbably, still in the third and final automatic qualifying spot.
GOAL! Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 USA (Jones 37)
Disaster for the USA. They are 2-0 down now after an incredible, swerving goal from distance by Alvin Jones. Tim Howard had no chance.
34min: Honduras have scored – they are now 1-1 against Mexico. The pressure has ramped up another notch.
32min: The US are neatly playing the ball around but making little headway going forwards. They need at least a goal here, one would think.
25min: The US may be losing but they remain in the third and final automatic qualification place due to results elsewhere. Indeed, Mexico have just taken a 1-0 lead against Honduras.
GOAL! Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 USA (Gonzalez 17 og)
USA are a goal down after a howler from Omar Gonzalez. The pressure is on.
1min: Peep! Trinidad and Tobago get us up and running at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Well, I thought it was funny.
OK, I’ve found a connection on YouTube. Kick off is about to begin.
Excuse the lack of updates, having some TV connection problems.
It’s half an hour until kick-off. Why not follow how Argentina are getting on in their quest to make Russia 2018…
There was some suggestion that wonder boy Christian Pulisic would not play due to injury but he starts, which will relieve USA fans no end.
Bruce Arena sticks with the same starting XI from the 4-0 victory over Panama last Friday…
The starting XIs
Trinidad and Tobago: Foncette, Moses, Cyrus, Villaroel, George, Gonzales, Hyland, Paul, Arcia, Lewis, Winchester.
USA: Howard; Yedlin, Gonzalez, Besler, Villafaña; Nagbe, Bradley, Pulisic, Arriola; Altidore, Wood.
Ato Boldon, after whom the stadium is named, was, of course, a world-class sprinter in his day. But did you know he covers Nascar racing on American television?
There was much controversy when it was announced that this qualifier would be played at the 10,000 Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva rather than 27,000-capacity Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital of Port-of-Spain. Even Boldon himself seemed critical of the move.
Bruce Arena, in fine form during his pre-match press conference, had this to say about USA’s qualifying campaign.
“I would love to see one of these hotshot teams from Europe come here and play in our Concacaf qualifying and really get a taste of this and see what that’s about. This is very challenging, it’s like survival of the fittest. They could do one of those TV shows on this. Who will survive in the end, that’s basically what this is.”
So, this is it. After a distinctly average – and, at times, hugely disappointing – campaign, the United States are on the cusp of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The permutations for tonight’s match against Trinidad and Tobago are simple: win and they qualify. A draw should also be enough (due to goal difference) while there is also a slim chance that Bruce Arena’s team could go through even if they lose.
On the flip side, USA could end up in a play-off against Australia or even not qualify for the World Cup at all should results go against them. But they are playing Trinidad and Tobago, who have no chance of qualifying and have comfortably been the worst team in the Concacaf hexagonal group.
There are two other games in the Hex tonight: Panama are at home to Costa Rica while Honduras host Mexico. Both Costa Rica and Mexico have already secured their spots at the World Cup.
To recap, one of USA, Panama and Honduras will qualify automatically, one will go in a play-off and the other will go home empty-handed. All to play for.
Bob will be here soon. In the meantime, you can read how the USA put themselves on the brink of World Cup qualification.