Christian Pulisic best of awful bunch as U.S. crashes out of World Cup
The final game of the Hex delivered a simple scenario for Bruce Arena and the U.S. men's national team: beat Trinidad and Tobago, qualify for Russia 2018. Instead of doing the job themselves, the Americans failed to show up, losing 2-1 to the Soca Warriors. By virtue of wins for both Panama and Honduras, the U.S. will miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Few, if any. The Americans wasted all of the momentum they brought with them from the Friday night win over Panama with a low-energy first half that put them down two goals in the first half. Christian Pulisic's goal early in the second half brought them hope, confirming that the teenager is the brightest light for the U.S.
Too many to count. The opening 45 was among the worst American halves in years, if not decades. Despite holding a massive advantage over the Trinidadian "B" squad in terms of talent, the U.S. did nothing to press that advantage. The group that was so dynamic Friday against Panama was a mess, with the interchange going wrong on nearly every occasion. With a World Cup berth on the line, the Americans simply did not show up.
Manager rating (out of 10)
2 -- Arena chose poorly, rolling out the same starting lineup he used four days ago in Orlando, Florida. Instead of showing the continuity of play he was obviously hoping for, the group proved incapable of matching that energy. The tactics were wrong, leaving too few bodies in midfield to press T&T when the home side brought the ball forward. That directly led to both goal and the Americans' disastrous evening.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Tim Howard, 2.5 -- Painfully slow to react all night. Culpable on both goals conceded.
DF DeAndre Yedlin, 6 -- The best player on a horrible night for the Yanks.
DF Omar Gonzalez, 2 -- Directly contributed to scoreline (at the wrong end) via a first-half own goal. Error prone all evening.
DF Matt Besler, 4 -- The least poor of the two center-backs, which means little.
DF Jorge Villafana, 3 -- Pushed back all night, ineffective going forward and ultimately removed for a more dynamic player with the game on the line.
MF Paul Arriola, 3.5 -- Invisible over 45 minutes, sacrificed for Clint Dempsey at halftime.
MF Michael Bradley, 4.5 -- Left isolated by the tactics and therefore struggled to maintain control in the midfield. Given help in the second half with the U.S. chasing the game.
MF Darlington Nagbe, 4.5 -- Poor in transition, slow to the ball on the defensive side. Added some forward drive in the second half but was largely mediocre.
MF Christian Pulisic, 6 -- Scorer of the lone U.S. goal, a fine strike that briefly lifted spirits for the Americans.
FW Bobby Wood, 3.5 -- Dribbled into turnovers with U.S on the attack more than once. Worked to find the ball and shots.
FW Jozy Altidore, 2.5 -- Dropped deep in an effort to draw out defenders but was extremely poor in possession.
MF Clint Dempsey, 6 -- Did what he could to impact the game, and nearly found the life-saving equalizer.
DF Kellyn Acosta, NR -- Added energy and attack as a substitute but couldn't change Americans fortunes.
MF Benny Feilhaber, NR -- A few touches in his return to the team on what proved to be a nightmare evening.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.