Bruce Arena said the United States should not be staying home for the 2018 World Cup as the under-fire head coach accepted responsibility for the country’s failure to qualify.
USA failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after suffering a shock 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.
It was a match to forget for the Americans, who were third before kick-off but finished fifth and outside of the qualifying places in CONCACAF following wins for rivals Panama and Honduras.
Speaking after USA’s capitulation as they attempted to secure an eighth successive World Cup berth, Arena said: “Clearly we are very disappointed. We had everything there for us today. No excuses for us not getting a second goal and coming away with at least a point.
“It’s a blemish for us. We should not be staying at home for this World Cup and I take responsibility.
“It never mattered to us the scores of the other games. We failed on the day. No excuses. We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point.
“It’s clearly good for CONCACAF that it was such a competitive go at it this time around. Certainly Mexico have been the dominant team in the Hexagonal. Costa Rica proved to be of quality. And the teams that finished third [Panama], fourth [Honduras] and fifth [USA] were pretty inconsistent throughout the campaign.”
As for his team, who conceded twice in the first half following Omar Gonzalez’s own goal and Alvin Jones’ stunner before teenage sensation Christian Pulisic reduced the deficit after the break, Arena added: “It was a poor first half.
“Certainly a few fortunate goals. Outstanding second goal. Unfortunate first goal. And a half where we didn’t play well. Started the second half in good shape. Give our opponent credit. 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.
“Our centre-backs were not confident enough with the ball. Our forwards were not able to hold the ball. They did a poor job there. We didn’t get 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?”
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