The USMNT Just Erased 8 Years of Massive Disappointment by Finally Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup

In 2017, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team needed only a draw with Trinidad and Tobago — who entered the match dead last in the table with a measly three points compared to the U.S.’s 12 and leader Mexico’s 21 — to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

They failed.

The USMNT lost 2-1 in the infamous match that caused the United States to miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

It’s been more than eight years. More than eight years U.S. soccer fans have had to live with the disappointment of that defeat.

But now it feels like a lifetime ago as the Americans fell 2-0 to Costa Rica on March 30 but officially reestablished themselves on the world’s biggest stage.

The USMNT fell 2-0 to Costa Rica to qualify for the 2022 World Cup

The USMNT soccer team qualified for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter and defender Walker Zimmerman of the United States salute the fans after a FIFA World Cup qualifier game between Costa Rica and USMNT. | Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

That sounds like a strange sentence. But it’s true.

All the U.S. had to do was not lose by more than six goals to the Ticos. Qualification seemed imminent as soon as the Americans routed Panama 5-1 on March 27.

But then again, all they had to do was pull out a draw with Trinidad in 2017.

Coach Gregg Berhalter’s squad didn’t blow the roof off as it did against Panama but was in complete control on March 30 (minus a 10-minute span).

It was an anticlimactic and, bluntly, underwhelming finish to World Cup qualifying. Costa Rica’s Juan Vargas scored in the 51st minute, and Anthony Contreras added a second in the 59th.

But the U.S. made it. That’s what matters.

More than eight years of agony are now over for USMNT Soccer fans

U.S. men’s soccer felt like the world’s laughingstock following the epic embarrassment that was the loss to Trinidad.

Fans have nervously waited since then, hoping, praying, for exactly what took place last night.

The USMNT’s most well-known player — and even if he doesn’t always wear the armband, de facto leader — Christian Pulisic was in tears after that 2017 loss. He was 19 years old then.

The first man to enter the national stage as part of what’s been dubbed The Golden Generation of U.S. Soccer, Pulisic has already seen the lowest of lows as an American soccer player.

Now he gets to experience a high.

“That was one of the toughest days of my life,” Pulisic said of the Trinidad loss via ESPN. “I’ll never forget it. Now to be in this position and qualify for the World Cup, we’re all extremely proud.

“This is where I’ve always wanted to be, and right now, my emotions are crazy.”

Berhalter was part of a U.S. team that made the World Cup quarterfinals in 2022. Now he’s coached the Americans back to the world’s largest competition.

“Just being at a World Cup as a player is one of the most special things you can do,” he said. “Now to be doing it as a coach with this group of players is something special.”

Right-back DeAndre Yedlin — also a member of that 2017 team alongside Pulisic — may have put the Costa Rica match into perspective best.

“I think at this point, I wouldn’t say it’s the ultimate goal, I think the ultimate goal is obviously to win a World Cup,” he said. “But there’s steps you have to take to get there and one of the huge steps is to qualify for World Cup.”

Huge step complete.

After qualifying, the U.S. is playing with house money

Of course, as Yedlin explained, qualifying isn’t enough. The U.S. is stocked with young talent. Players, coaches, and fans will all hope for a run in Qatar.

And it should have never come to this. The U.S. should have been playing in Russia in 2018, but the team failed. In epic, humiliating fashion.

Qualifying again in 2026 will be a different kind of fight altogether. At that point, all the 23 and under players who lead the U.S. right now will be in their football primes.

After the hurt we’ve had to live with for the past eight-plus years, though, this is a celebration.

The USMNT is back. We’re back. Whatever happens moving forward — at least through this World Cup — is icing on the cake.

“It’s amazing what this group of guys have been able to do over these last seven months,” Berhalter said via ESPN. “I’ve really seen the team grow and this is a great accomplishment.

“We are looking forward to the World Cup.”

American soccer fans have waited to hear those words for more than eight years.

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