Wow soccer fans – I can’t believe I am writing this but the United States will not be playing in the World Cup in 2018. I have to admit I just never dreamed the USA would lose and miss the World Cup – after our win on Friday night vs Panama. We had to lose and Honduras had to beat top seeded Mexico (3-2) and Panama beat 2nd seeded Costa Rica (2-1) for us not to advance (did you see this bogus goal by Panama). I just never, ever dreamed all of that would happen. A 2-1 catastrophic loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed the fate of this US team that only won 3 games out of 10 in the final round of qualifying losing or tying the likes of soccer powerhouses Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica (twice).
Let’s start with what went wrong Tues night. Arena rolled out the same starters as he did in the last game vs Panama. While this might have seemed logical – and Cobi Jones (he’s a horrible analyst by the way) was ok with it. I thought from the start this game was going to need some changes. First and foremost was to add defender Geoff Cameron (1 of only 2 American players starting for their team in the EPL) back to the starting defense either for Gonzales or as part of a 3/5 man back line. T&T had speed at forward and wing something Gonzales does not deal well with. His first goal deflection (didn’t close fast enough for the challenge & should have given up a PK 5 min later). Seriously how do you not play Cameron – one of your best and most experienced players? I just don’t understand??
I also thought the muddy conditions required Guzan to be in goal tonight. Listen I respect Tim Howard, he is truly one of the best goalkeepers to ever play for the US, but he is a shell of the GK he was 4 years ago in Brazil. His leg injury from last year costing him bounce and leaping ability This was Brad Guzan’s game – I guarantee you he saves 1 of the 2 goals scored. I also thought either McCarty or Acosta should have replaced Paul Arriola to help give more defensive help to Bradley in the middle. (I think that wide open wonder goal shot would have been challenged with another D mid on the field). Finally I thought this was a game for a mudder – which means you had to have Dempsey in the ballgame much earlier- I would have started him. Beyond the tactics though seriously this US team just doesn’t have players with that never say die, won’t be denied attitude. They don’t play with a chip on their shoulder. Left back continues to haunt us as both goals came where Villafana was supposed to be? Bradley while he hustles his but off all over the field – just doesn’t have that bite. That Jermaine Jones – I am going to crack your a$$ in half if needed to win. This team just didn’t play with enough intensity to win this game? They slept walked thru the first 30 to 40 minutes of this game. And even later – down 2-1 – just not enough urgency, not enough want to. Here I will give Arena credit – he subbed Dempsey at the half, Feilhaber later and pulled a defender for a d mid in Acosta. Man I thought Dempsey’s shot was going in – just off the post. Another shot just missed. Benny had a chance on a header late. It just wasn’t to be. Man I really feel sorry for our 19 year old sensation Christian Pulisic – he played his but off and carried this team down the stretch run of games (he’s our Messi) but its going to be 4 more years before main stream America knows who he is because of this.
Listen lets not mince words – this comes from the top down. The US is doing some things, heck, many things fundamentally wrong. MLS – sure. While I think MLS is finally starting to develop players thru their academy’s that can make a difference – the truth is our best player was trained in Germany at Dortmund. I think thru about U15 the US is strong – heck lets see how our U17s do at the U17 World Cup. But from U16-U20 is where we don’t develop players the way other countries do. Unfortunately high school and college are not where professional soccer players are developed – worldwide. Perhaps its time to re-think it here in the US.
Pay to play – lets be realistic it costs between $1000 to $2000 to $5000 per year to have a kid play travel soccer in the United States. So unlike the rest of the world – where its often the working class kids who use soccer to escape (much like football and hoops here in the US) in the US if you aren’t the kid of a middle to upper middle class family – chances are you may not be able to afford to become a superstar soccer player. Yes things are better and “scholarships” to travel clubs and DA programs are available – but lets be real – 90% of the players families still have to Pay to Play. (by the way – that’s why we started Carmel FC – using all licensed but parent coaches so the cost to parents is not nearly as much as most other travel programs in the state).
One MLS impact and one I hear a lot is with our best players – or at least our US Nat team stars/starters now coming home to play in MLS – our best players no longer train at the highest level, against the best players in the world. Honestly this US team had just 3 players on the field who play in Europe – arguably the best 3 in Yedlin, Woods and Pulisic of course. The other 8 all have comfortable jobs making big money in the MLS – no worry of losing their jobs in practice to better players.
With regards to MLS and its impact on US Soccer – a thing that I think is loss is the improvement of players in other countries in CONCACAF who make a living playing in MLS. The winning scores in both the Honduras and Panama games tonight were scored by MLS players. So while some younger US Players are being developed in our professional league – a ton these smaller countries are having their best players play in MLS. I think overall MLS has helped improve the overall professional talent in these smaller CONCACAF Countries who in the past would have been stuck playing in their own not high quality domestic leagues.
Lots more to come on what needs to be done to Fix US Soccer. I think at this point obviously Bruce Arena will resign and we’ll see how many heads roll across the system. More on this later. For now I am just sad and tired and frustrated.
ON TO THIS WEEK
The MLS Season wraps up next Sunday with decision day on Oct 22 featuring multiple games with the playoff implications across Fox and ESPN networks. The playoffs will begin the following Wed/Thurs. This Sunday Fox Sports 1 features 2 games with huge Playoff implications as the New York Redbulls host Atlanta United at 4 pm currently 3rd in the East Standings. Defending Champ’s Seattle will host FC Dallas at 7:30 pm on FS1 as both teams fight for the final playoff spot in the West. Champions League is back next Tues/Wed – see full schedule below. Big World games this weekend include Liverpool vs Man United Sat at 7:30 am on NBCSN, and Atletico Madrid hosting Barcelona at 2:45 pm on beIN Sport.
Lost in the World Cup Qualifying Weekend – was the great story of a young US soccer fan donating his Pulisic signed Jersey to earn money for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief. Pulisic’s response was fanastic !!
Locally – #1 Indiana University (10-0-2) will play #15 Butler (7-3) Wednesday night, Oct 18th at the Butler Bowl. Senior GK Eric Dick, a former Carmel High GK, is fresh off winning Big East Goalie of the Week for the 3rd time this season. Tickets start at just $4 for kids and $7 for adults. The Carmel High School girls lost a heartbreaker 1-0 in a shootout loss to Guerin High in sectionals last weekend. Congrats on a great season and good luck to Guerin. Also the Guerin High boys with 7 Carmel FC’ers on the roster lost 2-0 to North Central in the sectional finals.
ESPNs Taylor Twellman Says Blow This Up Video
Jeff Carlisle What Needs to Happen to US Soccer – ESPNFC
Worse loss in US Sports History? USA Today
Worse Night Ever in US Soccer History – SI – Grant Wahl
US misses World Cup after Doomsday Scenario – SI – Grant Wahl
US out of Excuses after defeat leaves US out of World Cup – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC
US World Cup Hopes End in Shambolic Loss to T & T – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC
US Fails to Qualify for World Cup 2018 – USA Today
No one to Blame But ourselves – Bradley ESPNFC
Arena – Nothing Needs to Change – we are Close – Jeff Carlisle – ESPNFC
Gulati – Disappointing Result ESPN
Landon Donovan – WC Ouster is Disheartening and Unacceptable – SI
Slow Walking Death – How the US Failed out of WC – Charles Boehm MLS.com
Minute by Minute – how the Night Fell Apart
Historic Failure – Facts and Figures
Phantom Panama Goal at Costa Rica– Cost US World Cup
Messi Hat Trick Punches Argentina’s WC Ticket
Renaldo’s Star Quality is Russian Bound as Portugal Qualify
The World’s Best Players who Will Miss the World Cup
Playoff Race where does your team Stand
Atlanta’s Carlos Bocanegra – Extended as Technical Director
Handicapping the Golden Boot Race – with 2 games left
Kaka to Leave Orlando City and MLS at end of Year
Indy 11 host Hispanic Heritage Night vs Miami Oct 14 7:30 pm
Indy 11 add Puerto Rico Home game on Sat Oct 21 at 3 pm
GAMES ON TV
Thurs, Oct 12
7:30 am FS 2 Turkey U17 vs Paraguay U17 WC
10:30 am FS 2 US U17 vs Colombia U17 WC
10:30 am Fox sports Ghana U17 vs India U17 WC
Sat, OCt 14
7:30 am NBCSN Liverpool vs Man United
10 am NBCSN Man City vs Stoke City (Cameron)
9:30 am FS2 Bayern Munich vs Freiburg
10:15 am beIN Sport Getafe vs Real Madrid
12:30 NBC Watford vs Arsenal
12:30 pm FS2 Ausburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)
2:45 pm beIN Sport Atletico vs Barcelona
7:30 pm myindy Tv Indy 11 vs Miami
Sun Oct 15
7:30 am NBCSN Brighton vs Everton
9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg
11 am NBCSN Southampton vs Newcastle (Yedlin)
2:45 pm beIN Sport Inter vs AC Milan
Mon, Oct 16
7:30 am FS 2 2A vs 2 C U17 WC (Rd of 16)
10:30 am FS 2 1B vs 3 ACD U17 WC (Rd of 16)
Tues, Oct 17
7:30 am FS 2 1C vs 3 ABF U17 WC (Rd of 16)
10:30 am FS 2 1F vs 2 E U17 WC (Rd of 16)
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 Real Madrid vs Tottenham (Champ League)
2:45 pm Fox Soccer Man City vs Napoli (Champ League)
2:45 pm Fox MW Maribor vs Liverpool
Weds, Oct 18
7:30 am FS 2 1A vs 3 CDE U17 WC (Rd of 16)
10:30 am FS 2 1d vs 3 BEF U17 WC (Rd of 16)
2:45 pm Fox Sport 2 Barcelona vs Olympiakos (Champ League)
2:45 pm Fox MW Chelsea vs Roma (Champ League)
2:45 pm Fox Soccer Bayern Munich vs Celtic
7 pm Butler vs Indiana University at Butler Bowl !!
Thurs, Oct 19
1 pm Fox Sport 2 Crvena vs Arsenal (Europa League)
8:30 pm Fox Sport 1 USA vs Korea Republic
Sat, Oct 21
7:30 am NBCSN Chelsea vs Watford
7:30 am FS2 U17 WC Quarters
9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Frankfurt vs Dortmund (Pulisic)
10 am NBCSN Man United vs Huddersfiled Town (Johnson)
10 am CNBC? Stoke City vs Bournemouth
12:30 pm Fox Sport 2 Hamburger (Bobby Wood) vs Bayern Munich
3 pm myindy Tv Indy 11 vs Puerto Rico
Sun, Oct 22
7:30 am NBCSN Everton vs Arsenal
7:30 am FS2 U17 WC Quarters
7:30 am Fox soccer U17 WC Quarters
9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Freiburg vs Hertha
11 am NBCSN Tottenham vs Liverpool
Wed Oct 18 -7 pm – Butler Men Host Indiana University
USMNT’s failure to make the World Cup is the biggest embarrassment in U.S. sports history
By: Andrew Joseph | October 10, 2017 11:07 pm USA Today
It’s been 31 years since May 31, 1986 — the last World Cup that didn’t feature the United States. That’s 11,456 days of progress for a sport that’s come so far in a country that still hasn’t fully embraced it. All of that gone.
With U.S. soccer’s dreadful 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on the final day of CONCACAF’s qualifying hexagonal for the 2018 World Cup, next summer’s tournament will not feature the USMNT. No Christian Pulisic. No Tim Howard. No Michael Bradley. With that loss, the USMNT gave a nation the lowest point in its sporting history, and it’s not really close. CONCACAF is a grind, but compared to the other qualifying regions, the 3.5 World Cup spots out of six teams mean that the United States should be a lock to qualify. When it beat Panama, 4-0, on Friday, the U.S. put itself in position to escape a lackluster qualifying round with a spot in the tournament. All it really needed to do was take care of business at lowly Trinidad and Tobago. They couldn’t even do that. With no sense of urgency, USMNT players and coaches had to watch as their CONCACAF counterparts did them no favors. Four years after the USMNT saved Mexico’s World Cup dreams, El Tri instead blew a lead to Honduras and helped seal the USMNT’s fate. Costa Rica also blew a lead to Panama on a goal that shouldn’t have counted and gave up a late winner as the U.S. decided to score-watch rather than take matters into its own hands. A mostly empty stadium in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, felt even emptier on this night. It’s really difficult to quantify how bad this loss was for U.S. Soccer. Sunil Gulati and Bruce Arena should both be gone. Tim Howard, whose last World Cup appearance was a legendary performance, will likely leave U.S. Soccer with the lasting image of his worst performance with the national team. As bad as things got for the USMNT, the possibility of missing the World Cup didn’t actually seem real. It’s that arrogance that likely brought the team to where it is right now — out of the World Cup. When U.S. soccer legend Alexi Lalas called out the USMNT, its biggest star, Pulisic, laughed off the attempted gut-check rant. But when it comes down to it, though, the sport of soccer in the U.S. is going to feel the lasting effects the most. Every World Cup is an opportunity to grow the sport on the biggest stage. Even the growth from 2010, to 2014, to now has been tremendous. A nation went crazy when Landon Donovan sent the USMNT into the Round of 16 with his late winner in 2010 (a loss would have meant an early trip home). A nation went crazy when John Brooks put the U.S. ahead against Ghana in 2014, as he ran around not fully processing what he had done. Those moments forge memories and make lifelong fans of the sport. It creates momentum that makes it possible for an MLS team to draw 71,000 fans for a regular season match. Those moments inspire a young fan to kick around a soccer ball rather than throw a football. Those moments make it possible for a 19-year-old wonderkid to break through into the next level of international stardom. That’s not happening anymore. It’s five years — at best — of the USMNT out of the forefront of American sports. All because U.S. soccer let 95 minutes of arrogance erase 31 years of progress. And that is truly a shame.
U.S. out of excuses after defeat in Trinidad leaves it out of World Cup
COUVA, Trinidad — Bruce Arena called it “disappointing.” Michael Bradley referred to it as “a perfect storm.” Omar Gonzalez said: “It’s the worst day of my career.”No doubt, everyone associated with the U.S. national team is hurting in their own way, but Gonzalez’s comment seemed to crystallize the pain that was a byproduct of the 2-1 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago — a result that, when combined with scores from elsewhere, resulted in the U.S. being eliminated from World Cup qualifying for the first time since the 1986 cycle.”I just want to say sorry to the fans, all the U.S. fans that were pulling for us, that wanted to go to Russia, that believed in us,” Gonzalez said. “We let down an entire nation today.”It’s a result that is difficult to process on many levels. But let’s be clear: It’s the most embarrassing defeat in U.S. soccer history and one that will be impossible for this group of players and coaches to live down.CONCACAF is a massively forgiving region from which to qualify. And the Americans were in control of their destiny going up against a team that had nothing to play for. The U.S. roster and starting lineup had loads of experience compared to their T&T counterparts and the team had a manager, in Arena, who had led the U.S. to the World Cup on two previous occasions.So what happened? The U.S. essentially sleepwalked through the first 45 minutes of the match, and was second best in too many phases. The half ended with T&T deservedly two goals up. The first came from a Gonzalez own goal in the 17th minute, in which T&T forward Shahdon Winchester got a faint touch to a cross, which deflected off Gonzalez’s shin and looped over Tim Howard in the U.S. goal.”It’s one of the most unlucky goals ever I think for myself,” Gonzalez said. “It’s one that will haunt me forever.”Alvin Jones then unleashed a 30-yard dart that cleanly beat Howard, and the U.S. was in huge trouble. A Christian Pulisic goal two minutes into the second half pulled them back within one, but the players couldn’t find an equalizer as Clint Dempsey hit the post.At which point, the rest of the improbable dominoes began to fall. As the minutes ticked by, Honduras was already beating Mexico 3-2, proving the long-held sentiment that El Tri wouldn’t return the favor from four years ago when the U.S. essentially saved Mexico from elimination by denying Panama.As it turned out, Panama got its revenge thanks to a ghost goal equalizer and a late winner by Roman Torres, and when news of his effort wafted through the Ato Boldon Stadium, the U.S. was sunk. Players walked off the field in a daze, save for Matt Besler, who simply sat down on the pitch in disbelief.And so the rampant inconsistency that plagued the U.S. throughout this World Cup qualifying cycle proved fatal. But it elicited a mystifying question: How is it that the U.S. team that took apart Panama on Friday night could play so poorly with a spot at the World Cup on the line?”Nerves play into it, they had a good game plan, 1,000 different things,” Howard said. Bradley added: “Different games.”That is certainly true, as T&T wisely sat in and soaked up pressure and then tried to exploit the spaces available on the counter. But there were also moments when the Soca Warriors pinged the ball around with ease, with the Americans unable to get near them.So what was stopping the U.S. from doing the same? What was stopping them from converting more of their chances? What was stopping them from making the defensive plays that needed to be made, and putting their opponents under pressure? lack of ruthlessness at both ends of the field for one. Had Jozy Altidore converted early when given time to turn and shoot, who knows what would have happened. He didn’t though, and T&T duly took advantage.That was by no means the only time that teamwide frailty cropped up this cycle either. How else do you explain the inability of the U.S. to follow up dominating performances with impressive displays on the road? The away 1-1 draw in Panama is one example. And while dropping the first two games of the Hex put the U.S. in a hole, it was one they climbed out of relatively quickly, only for their inability to close the deal to return.Perhaps the biggest problem of all was that the U.S. struggled to break down teams that were content to sit back and soak up pressure. It happened against Costa Rica and it happened for much of the game against T&T. To be fair, this is something that the U.S. has grappled with for decades. Yet previous U.S. teams always managed to do enough. Many of those teams had Landon Donovan, or a younger version of Clint Dempsey, players who could pull off a special play.This team didn’t have that creative magic, or at least enough of it to get through qualifying. This generation has been touted as the most talented team in U.S. history. Certainly it possesses a once-in-a-generation player in Pulisic, but this side proved to be entirely too dependent on the Borussia Dortmund attacker. The teenager played a part in 12 of the last 17 goals the U.S. scored. Against Panama he had plenty of help from his supporting cast, but on too many other days he didn’t.Something else was missing as well. The best teams — or at least ones that qualify for World Cups — are those that can fuse the individual pieces into a collective that was greater. That has long been a trademark of the U.S., but one that was lost during this cycle no matter who the manager was. This was felt acutely on the defensive side. “We weren’t hard enough to play against on too many nights,” Altidore said.Without question, this night will haunt these players for years to come, and result in some introspection as well.”If you don’t look at yourself after this individually, then you’re f—ed up in the head,” Altidore said.That is not to say Arena doesn’t bear responsibility either: In the past two fixture periods, several of his decisions backfired.For Tuesday’s match his decision to not go with Geoff Cameron looms large. Yes, Cameron was just coming off an injury, but he had made it through a league game with Stoke City just prior to joining up with the U.S., and he remains one of the most talented players on the team. Fabian Johnson’s exclusion, especially on a night when T&T repeatedly attacked Jorge Villafana, also can be questioned.Arena and the team also seemed prone to making excuses, often speaking of adverse playing conditions or a lack of home support. On this day, the U.S. ran out of them. Now they will spend next summer watching the World Cup from home.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.
USA’s Haunting World Cup Qualifying Failure Emits Blame, Shock and Calls for Change
QUICKLY -USMNT flirted with disaster throughout its floundering World Cup qualifying campaign, and it paid the price: A first missed World Cup since 1986 and a boatload of soul-searching to follow in U.S. Soccer.
By Grant Wahl October 11, 2017 SI
COUVA, Trinidad and Tobago — Let’s be perfectly clear: The most embarrassing failure in U.S. Soccer history was consummated on Tuesday night in a near-empty stadium in the Caribbean tropics, culminating in a soul-crushing 2-1 defeat to a last-place opponent in which the U.S. men’s national team had only needed a win or a tie to qualify for World Cup 2018.But this miasma of futility—causing the U.S. to miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986—was only the endpoint of a long series of felonies and misdemeanors over the last 12 months in Columbus, Ohio, and in San Jose, Costa Rica; in Harrison, N.J., and in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The dateline for the autopsy of this U.S. team may read Couva, a tiny town that no U.S. soccer fan will ever forget, but the seeds for this dark day were planted in several locations.When it comes down to it, CONCACAF is a frighteningly forgiving region for World Cup qualifying. Mexico qualified for Brazil 2014 after winning just two of 10 Hexagonal games. The U.S. was eliminated from Russia 2018 after just three victories in 10 qualifiers. The Americans started with a giant margin for error and then proceeded to whittle it down, in chunks large and small, from two opening defeats to last month’s home loss to Costa Rica to the finishing blow on Tuesday—a catastrophic capitulation to a team that had lost six straight Hexagonal games.Afterward, players fought back tears. One of them was defender Omar Gonzalez, who saw the hosts’ first goal bounce off his shin and into the U.S. net for an own goal.“It’s one that will haunt me forever,” he said. “I never thought I would see this day. It’s the worst day of my career … What was supposed to be a celebration is now … I don’t even know what to say. It’s terrible. I just want to say sorry to all the fans that were pulling for us, that wanted to go to Russia, that believed in us. We let down an entire nation today.”Another player who was disconsolate was forward Jozy Altidore, who made little impact on the game.“If you don’t look at yourself after this individually,” he said, “I think you’re f—ed up in the head.” U.S. captain Michael Bradley had 90 minutes by himself in doping control after the game to digest the doomsday scenario that had just played out; a U.S. loss combined with Panama and Honduras wins was the only way the Americans could be eliminated.“It was a perfect storm kind of night,” he said after emerging. “Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did, in this stadium and in two other stadiums across the region. To give away the first goal like that [on an own goal] is a killer. It comes from nothing and it ultimately gives them life, gives them energy. It means that all of the sudden they believe, that there’s something there for them. The second goal, the guy [Alvin Jones] hits a great shot that flies into the far corner … We got back to 2-1 and at that point couldn’t make a play to unlock them, couldn’t get the final pass, the final shot, the final action. You can go around in circles a million times over again. But the reality is it was all there for us, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”He’s right. The U.S. deserved to drop all the points it did during this miserable qualifying campaign. There were no horrible referee calls that changed results, no bad bounces that somehow rolled into the goal. Trinidad and Tobago, like Costa Rica before it, realized that this U.S. team could be beaten if you sat back, soaked up pressure and picked the right spots to move forward and threaten the goal. The U.S. proved time and again that it didn’t have the ability to break down a team defending that way. You can’t ask 19-year-old Christian Pulisic—who scored the U.S. goal on Tuesday—to do everything.“Teams certainly have shown they’re going to sit back and frustrate us,” said U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. “So you’re probably going to need to break some teams down. Until we do that, teams won’t come out of their shell.”Under Arena, the U.S. had appeared to recover much of its old identity—namely, being hard to play against as a unit—between March and June. But that identity mysteriously disappeared again in three of the last four qualifying games over the past month.“Collectively one through 11, we weren’t able to defend well enough,” said Altidore. “You can’t go and score four or five goals every game. We have to be able to be hard to play against. We weren’t hard enough to play against too many times.”Most of the U.S. players appeared shellshocked. When the Netherlands was eliminated from the World Cup on Tuesday, the Dutch players knew it was coming, since they had to win by an unrealistic seven goals over Sweden. But the Americans fully expected to qualify for Russia on Tuesday, and at the very least they thought they’d be heading to the intercontinental playoff against Australia. Full elimination wasn’t in the picture, and their dazed looks suggested they were having trouble processing it.A full reckoning will now have to take place by U.S. Soccer. Arena’s days are numbered, for one thing. He took responsibility for the failure after the game, as he should have: The home loss to Costa Rica and Tuesday’s fiasco were inexcusable.“I’m clearly very disappointed,” he said. “We had everything there for us today … We should not be staying home from this World Cup.”ut Arena wouldn’t go so far to say that major changes should take place in U.S. Soccer.“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing,” he argued. “Certainly, I think if our league continues to grow it benefits the national team program. We have some good players coming up. Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We’re building a consistent professional league. We have players playing abroad of a certain quality. There’s enough there. There’s no excuses for us to not qualify for the World Cup.”
As Arena spoke, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati sat nearby with a blank look on his face, as if he didn’t know what had hit him.“Extremely disappointed,” he said. “We certainly expected to qualify throughout the process and especially after Friday night [a 4-0 win over Panama]. So it’s a huge disappointment for everybody: The players, the staff, the coaches, for the federation. It’s not good enough, obviously.”But when Gulati was pressed on whether wholesale changes were necessary after this debacle, he shook his head.“So wholesale changes aren’t needed if the ball that hits off the post [from Clint Dempsey] goes in?” he said. “You don’t make wholesale changes based on the ball being two inches wide or two inches in. We’ll look at everything, obviously, and all our programs, both the national team and all the development stuff. But we’ve got a lot of pieces in place that we think are very good and have been coming along. Tonight obviously wasn’t what we hoped for.”Yet this American failure wasn’t due to one shot hitting the post. It was due to repeated fatal flaws that were exposed time and again over the last 12 months. If you can’t qualify from one of the easiest and most forgiving regional competitions on Earth, how are you going to compete at a World Cup? It remains to be seen now whether Gulati will run for reelection in February—and whether he’ll have a chance to win if he does. The drumbeat for change, real change, will ring loudly now.At the same time, be wary of those who promise easy answers for complex problems. Too many people in the U.S. soccer community think there are lightning-bolt answers—Promotion and relegation! Send all the youngsters to Europe!—that will solve everything. They won’t. There should be an honest discussion, though, of the factors that led to this day that will live in infamy. It will take some time.On Tuesday night, though, everyone was still processing the shock and what had led to it.“We dropped too many points on too many days,” Bradley said. “We put ourselves at a disadvantage from the very beginning when we lost the first two games. When you lose the first two games and drop points on too many days, your margin for error goes. So you know you’re at the mercy of a night like this where everything possible goes against you, both here and in the two other games.“That’s just reality. That’s on us.”And then Bradley walke away, by himself, into the darkness and an uncertain future for U.S. Soccer.
USA Misses World Cup as Doomsday Scenario Plays Out Across CONCACAF
By Grant Wahl October 10, 2017
COUVA, Trinidad and Tobago — On the most surreal and embarrassing night in U.S. soccer history, the U.S. men’s national team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago (the worst team in the CONCACAF Hexagonal) and was eliminated from contention for World Cup 2018.The doomsday scenario happened.All the U.S. needed to do to qualify for the World Cup was to win or tie. And they lost, a deserving defeat that ended a miserable qualifying campaign—three wins in 10 Hexagonal games—and will raise enormous questions about the overall direction of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the players and coach Bruce Arena. The U.S. loss opened the door to Panama and Honduras, which both needed to win to ensure the U.S. elimination, which was exactly what happened. Honduras rallied from two deficits to beat Mexico in San Pedro Sula, while Panama rode a controversial Blas Perez opener and a Roman Torres late winner to beat Costa Rica in Panama City.Here are three thoughts on the USA’s ouster:
THE U.S. SHOULD BE UTTERLY EMBARRASSED
On a night when Arena’s team had control of its own destiny, the Americans had one of the most infamous belly-flops in U.S. soccer history, losing to the already-eliminated Trinis with everything on the line for the United States.In a pitiful first-half performance, the U.S. lacked urgency and went through the motions while the hosts looked like the ones who had a chance to qualify for the World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago took a 2-0 halftime lead on an own-goal by Omar Gonzalez and a golazo from distance by Alvin Jones, and the U.S. response was tepid at best. This was a team with players acting like they thought they had already qualified for the World Cup, and it showed.
ONLY ONE U.S. PLAYER HAD A DECENT GAME
Christian Pulisic pulled one back for the Americans early in the second half with a laser from outside the box. Pulisic was largely bottled up otherwise, but at least he had one dazzling moment. His teammates could hardly say the same. Forwards Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood were nonexistent. Wings Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola were invisible. Goalkeeper Tim Howard could have been in better position on both goals. And Gonzalez showed with his own-goal and what should have been called a penalty soon thereafter that he was a poor choice by Arena to be on the field, especially with Premier League starter Geoff Cameron on the bench.
TEAR IT ALL DOWN
The far-reaching impacts of this colossal failure will be felt for a long time, not just by the figures on the field on Tuesday but also by the millions and millions of dollars lost by any number of stakeholders in the sport in the United States. The men’s World Cup only comes around once every four years, and the missed opportunity to create millions of new soccer fans in the U.S. is a crushing blow. Missing the World Cup won’t cripple the sport in the U.S., but it will be a huge step back for a sport that had been on the rise for a long time.
U.S.’s Michael Bradley: ‘Nobody to blame but ourselves’ for missing out
United States captain Michael Bradley said no single result led to the national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, while believing he and his teammates “have nobody to blame but ourselves.”Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago left the Americans outside of the qualifying positions in the final CONCACAF Hexagonal round by a single point after 10 games.”You can go around in circles a million times over again but the reality is it was all there for us, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves,” Bradley said.The U.S. fired Jurgen Klinsmann last November after the national team lost its first two games in the Hex — at home against Mexico and away to Costa Rica.But Bruce Arena only managed a draw in Panama in his second game in charge in March, and ultimately managed a record of three wins, three draws and two defeats in the rest of the qualifiers.And Bradley could not place the blame U.S.’s failure to qualify on any particular result over in the Hex.”It’s not the easiest time to make bigger-picture analysis,” he said. “Obviously we put ourselves right behind the eight-ball with our start, losing the first two games.”We came back in a strong way in March, even through — I mean, look, you never complain about points on the road, but there was probably more there for us in Panama.”June, all things considered you say great, you take your four points, and then obviously given the way we started there’s not much margin for error and when you lose to Costa Rica at home then the margin is virtually gone. And it was.”We responded in a strong way in Hondruas [a 1-1 draw], we responded in Orlando against Panama in a big win and came into the last matchday with everything in our own hands. That was all we could ask for.”ESPN FC’s Sam Borden spoke briefly to Klinsmann by phone after Tuesday’s results, but the former U.S. coach declined to comment.”Yes, I watched, but I don’t want to give any comments right now. It wouldn’t be right,” Klinsmann said.Before Tuesday’s games, the U.S. appeared likely to secure at least a spot in the intercontinental playoff against Australia with a draw. But the stunning loss, combined with wins from Panama and Honduras on the final matchday, combined to leave Arena’s team on the outside looking in.An Omar Gonzalez own goal and a spectacular strike from Alvin Jones had T&T leading 2-0 at halftime, but Christian Pulisic clawed one back for the U.S. early in the second half to give his team hope of securing at least a point from a draw. But the equalizing goal never came.One goal proved to be the difference, as even a draw would have been enough for the U.S. to automatically qualify. And Gonzalez said his own goal, which put the U.S. behind on the night, would stay with him for the rest of his life.”The player hit an early cross and I went to clear it. He touched it first and it hit off my shin and it happened to go right over [U.S. goalkeeper] Tim Howard,” Gonzalez said. “One of the most unlucky goals ever, I think, for myself, and it’s one that will haunt me forever.The massive slip-up by the U.S. means the team will miss out on its first World Cup since not qualifying for the 1986 edition in Mexico.”I never thought that I’d see this day,” Gonzalez said. “Like I said in Spanish, it’s the worst day of my career. I’m extremely sad right now; I don’t even know how to put it into words what I’m feeling. What was supposed to be a celebration is now … I don’t even know what to say. It’s terrible.”When I look over at the bench and everyone was sitting down, I could just see from the looks on their faces that it wasn’t good. I just want to say sorry to the fans, all the U.S. fans that were pulling for us, that wanted to go to Russia and believed in us. We let down an entire nation today.”
Arena accepts blame in passionate defense of U.S. Soccer setup
COUVA, Trinidad — United States manager Bruce Arena took responsibility for the shock 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago that eliminated the Americans from the World Cup, but he also said nothing needs to change with the approach of U.S. Soccer.The U.S. started the night in third place in the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, but its loss, combined with Honduras’ 3-2 win over Mexico, and Panama’s 2-1 victory over Costa Rica dropped them to fifth place in the Hex, allowing the Canaleros to claim third place on goal difference, and the Catrachos to contest a playoff against Australia.”I think it’s disappointing. It’s a blemish for us,” said Arena. “We should be not be staying home for this World Cup. I take responsibility for that.”Arena’s contract expires next July, while U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will face opposition if he decides to stand for re-election in a vote set for February.But asked how U.S. Soccer should respond to the defeat, Arena answered in a manner that is likely to infuriate American fans everywhere.”There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing,” he said. “Certainly as our league grows, it advances the national team program. We have some good young players come up.”Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We’re building a good system in our professional league. We have players playing abroad of some quality.”There’s enough there. There’s no excuses for us not qualifying for the World Cup.”The U.S. played with none of the verve and aggression that it showed in Friday’s 4-0 hammering of Panama. Instead it looked tentative, allowing the home side to take the initiative. An own goal from U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez put the Soca Warriors on top in the 17th minute.”I think we foolishly brought Trinidad into the game with the own goal,” said Arena. “At that point we started to get into the game and it was going to be OK.”That was a big goal for Trinidad psychologically. It got them motivated and they closed out the half in good form. That was a big play in the game.”Alvin Jones then compounded the Americans’ difficulty with 30-yard blast eight minutes before halftime.”I thought maybe the first 5-10 minutes we were okay,” said Arena. “But I think their energy, and dropping off [defensively], they got in good spots. Our center-backs were not confident enough with the ball, and really we often in the first half we were playing eight against 10 because they really needed to carry the ball and bring a player to the ball and move it a bit quicker.”Our forwards were not able to hold the ball, we did a poor job there. We didn’t get [Christian] Pulisic into the game, we played poorly. The first goal was unfortunate. Those things happen. The second goal was an incredible shot. What can you say?”Borussia Dortmund star Pulisic pulled a goal back minutes into the second half, but the U.S. couldn’t find the breakthrough it needed to keep its qualification hopes alive, with substitute Clint Dempsey’s shot bouncing off the post in the 77th minute.”Give our opponent credit,” said Arena. “They played well, they played hard, on the day they won a lot of individual battles against us, and they deserve all the credit for their win.”Arena added that he didn’t inform his team of what the scores were in the other games, as a draw would have put them through regardless of results elsewhere.”It never mattered to us the score of the other games at any time today,” he said.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.
USMNT Player Ratings: Excruciating World Cup elimination leaves no victors
he US national team put on a depressing display in Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday night, breaking hearts nationwide with a galling 2-1 loss that left them without a World Cup finals berthfor the first time since 1986.
The visitors looked like soccer zombies in the opening frame, operating with a maddening lack of intensity and no discernible organization. Two gut-punch goal leaks later, and the USMNT were in a do-or-die position that has so often seen them rise to the rally occasion over the past few decades. There would be no such excitement on this dreary, utterly shocking night.
Tim Howard (2)
Though the Colorado Rapids netminder made a couple of second-half stops to keep the US in it for the needed result, in the end, there was no coming back from how poorly he played in the first half. Incredibly clumsy footwork kept Howard from stopping the own goal, and there is absolutely no reason to be left flailing so wildly at a 40-yard shot. If that wasn’t enough, he also committed a couple of bad spills that nearly cost the team.
DeAndre Yedlin (4.5)
The Newcastle right back had several decent moments supporting the attack, but he was caught up by his own mistakes too often, and also oddly troubled by counterattack runners.
Omar Gonzalez (2)
A sloppy clearance attempt ended up in the back of the net to put the US behind early, and Gonzalez was then fortunate not to give up a spot kick moments later. He also repeatedly misfired on passes near midfield.
Matt Besler (6)
The Sporting KC defender is one of the few US players who should come out of this game unscathed. Besler largely did his duty at the back and bravely pushed up to support possession while the team was chasing a goal in the second half.
Jorge Villafana (3.5)
Whle the Santos Laguna left back made no great mistakes in his own end, he was a major letdown on the ball. Villafana was far less useful in the build than usual and his crosses floated awry on the few occasions he did gain a good position on the overlap.
Michael Bradley (4)
There is plenty to be said about leaving the captain to cover too much ground, but it’s still quite telling that he failed to manage even a single defensive stop in the middle of the field. Following a sub-standard first half, Bradley’s passing was more effective after the break.
Paul Arriola (2.5)
The D.C. United right-sider had little to no effect on the game during his 45 minutes of work. Arriola constantly left Bradley without both defensive support and a passing outlet.
Darlington Nagbe (4)
During the opening frame, the Portland midfielder strangely committed four cheap giveaways in the US end and coughed up another while attempting to lead a promising attack rush. Perhaps it’s just as well he left Bradley stranded on the ball so often. Nagbe improved considerably after intermission, and even picked up a cheap assist.
Christian Pulisic (6.5)
While his fine strike just past the break gave the visitors hope of a rally and a late cross nearly helped complete it, this was a hot-and-cold outing for the youngster. Pulisic was quite invisible for large swaths of the first half and was caught dribbling far too often on the night.
Bobby Wood (3.5)
One could certainly be forgiven for failing to notice Wood was on the field until his header from the Pulisic serve mentioned above was cruelly pawed away.
Jozy Altidore (4)
The Toronto FC striker suffered through an abysmal first half with his hold-up game. Like several of his teammates, Altidore was better after halftime – without being good enough to make the needed difference.
Bruce Arena (0)
Last week Arena stated that he had not given any thought to this Trinidad & Tobago match prior to Friday’s home clash vs. Panama. Tuesday’s game plan and the resulting US performance compels one to wonder if there was any thought put into it after the Panama win, either. Sticking with a winning lineup is much more applicable to club ball than it is to the World Cup qualifying game, where the team generally has only a few days between matches and then several weeks, or even months, apart. Simply throwing out what worked in Panama was oddly lackadaisical, and that’s exactly how the team played in a game that was meant to secure their place at Russia 2018. It pains me to say it, but that was inexcusable. And if that wasn’t annoying enough, Arena then stunted any potential comeback (again, in a situation where their very World Cup hopes were dying on the fire) by making a highly curious second sub and waiting far too long for the third. The coach has had many great days on the bench. This was his worst, at the worst possible time.
Clint Dempsey (6.5)
On a night when the USMNT seemed to collectively lack a belly fire, there was no such issue with Dempsey. The Sounders stalwart came off the bench ready to lift the team on his back, and twice came painfully close to finding the goal needed to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Kellyn Acosta (5)
The FC Dallas man offered some helpful hustle, but not much else as a makeshift left back.
Benny Feilhaber (-)
It might have been nice to see what the SKC playmaker could accomplish given more pitch time.
Facts and figures on U.S.’s historic failure to qualify for 2018 World Cup
The United States will not be playing at the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
The Americans’ 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night ended a run of qualifying for seven straight World Cups — the longest streak in CONCACAF.
The only way the U.S. could have been eliminated Tuesday night was with a loss and wins by both Panama and Honduras, who were facing opponents that had already clinched World Cup berths.
ESPN’s Soccer Power Index projected only a 3 percent chance that all three events would happen tonight and thus eliminate the U.S. from the World Cup.
Here are some other statistics surrounding the outcome:
— The U.S. lost five games in this qualifying cycle, its most losses in a single campaign in team history, and four in the final Hexagonal round, also a team high.
— Before this cycle, the U.S. had two home losses in its previous 53 home qualifiers since 1980. This time they lost to both Mexico and Costa Rica.
— The 12 points earned from the 10 games in the Hex are five fewer than in any other cycle since the current format began in 1998.
— From Hex games 6-8, the U.S. went winless in three straight World Cup qualifiers for the first time since 2001.
— The 2018 cycle is the first time since 2002 that the U.S. has not finished first in the Hex. The U.S. was second in 1998 and third in 2002 and is now fifth in 2018.
— The U.S.’ streak of seven straight World Cups before this cycle was the seventh-longest in the world after only Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Spain and South Korea.
The last time the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1986:
— Goalkeeper Tim Howard was the only one of Tuesday’s U.S. starters who had been born.
— Only two teams from CONCACAF qualified (Mexico as hosts and Canada). The World Cup also featured the Soviet Union and West Germany.
— The only professional outdoor soccer league in the U.S. was the Western Soccer Alliance. Major League Soccer was 10 years from starting.
Here’s where your team stands in the playoff picture heading into Week 32
October 9, 20178:00PM EDTMLSsoccer staff
We’re in the home stretch of the 2017 MLS regular season and the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. Here’s where your team stands in the race for the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs:RELATED: Seedings & Playoff Bracket if the playoffs started today …
|1. Toronto FC|
|19W-5L-8D | 65 points | +36|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. MTL, Oct 22 at ATL|
|The Reds’ 4-2 win over RBNY on Sept. 30 clinched the 2017 Supporters’ Shield, the first in club history and the first for a Canadian MLS side. It also assured them of the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs bracket and home-field advantage throughout the postseason, including MLS Cup, should they reach that stage for a second straight season.|
|2. New York City FC|
|16W-8L-8D | 56 points | +14 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at NE, Oct 22 vs. CLB|
|NYCFC earned a hard-fought draw in Bridgeview in Week 30, and with Atlanta losing 3-2 to Minnesota last Tuesday, the Cityzens are guaranteed to enter Week 32 at No. 2. And with the Supporters’ Shield now securely in Toronto, Patrick Vieira’s team are simply looking to hold on to that No. 2 position which would afford them a Knockout Round bye.|
|3. Atlanta United|
|15W-9L-8D | 53 points | +30 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at NY, Oct 22 vs. TOR|
|The Five Stripes had the look of a team that could battle NYCFC for the No. 2 seed and a Knockout Round bye. However, a Week 30 draw against New England, coupled with last Tuesday’s stunning home loss to Minnesota, their first at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, blew their big chance to vault past NYCFC. They still have a shot, but their final two matches against playoff-chasing RBNY and record-hungry Toronto FC won’t be easy.|
|4. Chicago Fire|
|15W-10L-7D | 52 points | +16 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. PHI, Oct 22 at HOU|
|A win in Week 30 could have placed Chicago just one point behind NYCFC for second place in the East. Instead, with a draw, they are now four points behind their East counterpoints. Their main objective at this point is likely to secure a home Knockout Round match by staying ahead of surging Columbus Crew SC.|
|5. Columbus Crew SC|
|15W-12L-5D | 50 points | +3 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at ORL, Oct 22 at NYC|
|With their 2-0 defeat of D.C. United in Week 30, Crew SC officially booked their spot in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. It marks the third time in four seasons under Gregg Berhalter and the seventh time in the last 10 years. Now in fifth place, two points behind Chicago and with two games remaining, Crew SC still have a chance to improve their seeding position, but they will need other results to go their way down the stretch.|
|6. New York Red Bulls|
|13W-12L-7D | 46 points | +5 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. ATL, Oct 22 at DC|
|The Red Bulls took care of business in Week 31 against a weakened Vancouver Whitecaps side to clinch the sixth and final playoff berth in the East. With six points separating them from the Chicago Fire in 4th place, the Red Bulls are looking at hitting the road for an Eastern Conference Knockout Round match.|
|7. Montreal Impact|
|11W-15L-6D | 39 points | -4 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at TOR, Oct 22 vs. NE|
|The Impact’s playoff chase was all but over after Week 30’s gut-punch 2-1 loss at Colorado, and the New York Red Bulls’ 3-0 win over Vancouver on Oct. 7 officially ended their pursuit.|
|8. New England Revolution|
|11W-15L-6D | 39 points | -10 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. NYC, Oct 22 at MTL|
|Like Montreal, the Revs were hoping for some help from Vancouver after dropping two more points at home with a Week 30 scoreless draw against Atlanta. Their hopes were dashed, however, when the Red Bulls stampeded past the ‘Caps on Oct. 7.|
|9. Philadelphia Union|
|10W-13L-9D | 39 points | -1 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at CHI, Oct 22 vs. ORL|
|Philadelphia kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 2-0 win against the Sounders in Week 30, but the help they needed from Vancouver was nowhere to be found as the Red Bulls sealed Philly’s fate with a win on Saturday.|
|10. Orlando City SC|
|10W-13L-9D | 39 points | -13 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. CLB, Oct 22 at PHI|
|Orlando‘s hopes, already slim heading into Week 30, took a huge blow after their home draw vs. Dallas. And they were also mathematically eliminated when the Red Bulls clinched the final available Eastern Conference playoff spot on Oct. 7.|
|11. D.C. United|
|9W-18L-5D | 32 points | -24 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at POR, Oct 22 vs. NY|
|D.C. United were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Sept. 27 and will be looking to use the rest of the season to build some momentum towards a big 2018 during which they’ll open their new Audi Field home.|
|1. Vancouver Whitecaps|
|15W-11L-6D | 51 points | +2 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. SJ, Oct 22 at POR|
|Whitecaps FC became the first West side to book their place in the postseason, thanks to their Week 30 road win over Sporting KC. It’ll be their third trip to the playoffs in the past four seasons. However, they were unable to extend their lead at the top of the West when a shorthanded lineup fell in a resounding 3-0 loss against the New York Red Bulls. The result means they missed a chance at a Knockout Round bye, though a win next week at home against San Jose would still be enough to guarantee a top-two finish in the West.|
|2. Sporting Kansas City|
|12W-7L-12D | 48 points | +13 GD|
|Remaining Matches (3): Oct 11 at HOU, Oct 15 vs. HOU, Oct 22 at RSL|
|SKC missed out on another chance to clinch a playoff berth when they settled for a 1-1 draw in Week 31 at Minnesota. Though still favorites to eventually claim a spot (and now in the No. 2 position in the West thanks to the Minnesota result), a tricky stretch run and the potential absence of star ‘keeper Tim Melia mean SKC can’t get complacent.|
|3. Portland Timbers|
|13W-11L-8D | 47 points | +5 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. DC, Oct 22 vs. VAN|
|The Timbers missed a chance to clinch their playoff spot in Week 30 by losing 2-1 to the Quakes, and they now find themselves back in a Knockout Round spot after Sporting picked up a point in Minnesota on Oct. 7. Unfortunately for PTFC’s chances at a bye, Sporting KC still have a game in hand on the Timbers, who finish their schedule with home games against D.C. United and Vancouver.|
|4. Seattle Sounders|
|12W-9L-11D | 47 points | +6 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. DAL, Oct 22 vs. COL|
|Seattle failed to clinch a playoff spot in Week 30, losing to the Union 2-0 in Chester. However, with two home games remaining on the schedule, a Knockout Round bye is still within reach.|
|5. Houston Dynamo|
|11W-10L-10D | 43 points | +8 GD|
|Remaining Matches (3): Oct 11 vs. SKC, Oct 15 at SKC, Oct 22 vs. CHI|
|After dropping valuable points in their two most recent home outings against West bottom-dwellers Colorado and LA, the Dynamo reversed the trend in Week 30 with a hard-fought 2-1 home win against Minnesota. The three points give them some breathing room before two difficult matches coming up against Sporting Kansas City. The job is far from done, though, as FC Dallas are now tied with them on points with Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes just one point behind.|
|6. FC Dallas|
|10W-9L-13D | 43 points | 0 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at SEA, Oct 22 vs. LA|
|FC Dallas missed a big opportunity to jump in the Western Conference standings when they went to the already-eliminated Colorado Rapids in Week 31 and came away with only a draw. They now sit in the 6th and final playoff spot, tied on points with the Houston Dynamo. But with Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes just one point behind, Dallas are in a precarious position.|
|7. Real Salt Lake|
|12W-14L-6D | 42 points | -6 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at COL, Oct 22 vs. SKC|
|Kyle Beckerman‘s dramatic 95th-minute equalizer earned 10-man RSL a 1-1 road draw at the LA Galaxy in Week 30, a result which reverberated across the tight Western Conference playoff race. The point for RSL kept them a nose ahead of San Jose, but FC Dallas used their game in hand during the international break to jump one point ahead and into sixth place, the final playoff spot. Given how tight the grouping around the playoff line is in the West, a rivalry match win in Colorado is likely a must-have on Oct. 15.|
|8. San Jose Earthquakes|
|12W-14L-6D | 42 points | -22 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at VAN, Oct 22 vs. MIN|
|The Earthquakes picked up a vital 2-1 home win over Portland in Week 30 to keep pace with FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, who are fighting for the sixth and final playoff spot. A spot as high as fifth place, currently occupied by the Houston Dynamo, is also still within reach. San Jose hope they can survive a Week 32 trip to Vancouver and get some other favorable results in order to enter that final home match against Minnesota with something to play for on Decision Day.|
|9. Minnesota United|
|10W-16L-6D | 36 points | -19 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at LA, Oct 22 at SJ|
|The Loons’ season is done as of Oct. 7, when a home draw to Sporting Kansas City combined with an FC Dallas draw mathematically doomed Minnesota’s playoff chances. They’ve gone 4W-2L-2D in their last eight games but it just wasn’t enough to make up the deficit in the standings.|
|10. Colorado Rapids|
|8W-18L-6D | 30 points | -18 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. RSL, Oct 22 at SEA|
|A Sept. 27 loss in Dallas officially ruled the Rapids out of playoff contention. But they can now revel in their role of playoff spoilers, playing FC Dallas to a draw in Week 31 and next welcoming rivals and playoff chasers Real Salt Lake for a visit to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.|
|11. LA Galaxy|
|7W-17L-8D | 29 points | -21 GD|
|Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. MIN, Oct 22 at DAL|
|The Galaxy were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Sept. 27 and are now hoping to avoid finishing with the worst record in the league, a development few saw coming in 2017.|
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