By Chineze Ogugua
The United States national team have failed to qualify for the World Cup after a controversial goal for Panama in addition to a 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago condemned them to their first World Cup miss since 1986.
Omar Gonzalez scored past veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard to open the scoring for Trinidad before Alvin Jones smashed in a superb 35-yard strike to double the hosts’ lead.
Borussia Dortmund teenager Christian Pulisic gave the US hope in the second half, but then Gabriel Torres popped up with an effort of his own in the 88th minute against Costa Rica to latch on to a long ball forwards and smash it off the crossbar to send Panama through.
Panama jumped up to third by this win to reach their first World Cup finals though their opening goal caused a debate after Gabriel Torres’ header appeared not to have crossed the line but was still given by referee Walter Lopez of Guatemala.
A disappointed Coach Bruce Arena said after the game, “We had everything there for us,”
“We failed on the day. No excuses. We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point. We should not be staying at home for this World Cup and I take responsibility.”
Panama now joins Mexico and Costa Rica to represent the North Americans at the mundial.