Conspiracy theory, fate, karma, God’s will, whatever you want to call it, but it seems the US football team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 was written in the stars.
Bruce Arena’s men may be feeling down, but judging from events that transpired in Tuesday’s CONCACAF games it seems that it just wasn’t to be.
In an amazing sequence of events, a total of four freak goals contributed to the US finishing fifth in their regional qualifying group and missing out on a trip to Russia.
First in the 17th minute of the US’ game against Trinidad and Tobago, there seemed to be no danger as a Trinidad player swung in a hopeful cross from the right.
The ball though, ended up in the back of the net for the opening goal as US defender Omar Gonzalez took a wild swing and the ball looped up over keeper Tim Howard’s despairing dive.
Then, 20 minutes later they fell further behind thanks to a wonder strike from defender Alvin Jones, who strode forward before letting go with a once-in-a-lifetime, arrowing strike from fully 35 yards.
But the one-off goals didn’t end there, as there was a third one in the match between Mexico and Honduras.
Group winners Mexico were leading 2-1 early in the second half when Honduras forward Eddie Hernandez was played through in the box. He looked odds on to score, and he did, but in the most fortunate of circumstances.
His shot cannoned off the bar back onto Mexican keeper’s Ochoa’s head and then back into the net for the equaliser.
The goal inspired Honduras, who then went on to grab a winner shortly afterwards – a win that took them above the US and into the playoff spot.
The most contentious goal, however, came in the game between Panama and Costa Rica.
Panama were trailing 1-0 at half time when the ball was bundled goalwards following a corner. A scramble ensued on the goalline before the ball went out of play.
Esa bola nunca entró ¡Árbitro vulgar! pic.twitter.com/9xyrrZIzWt
— TDMás (@tdmas_cr) October 11, 2017
A goal was given despite it appearing not to have crossed the line. What would Bruce Arena have given for goal-line technology or VAR?
Panama then grabbed an 88th minute winner which saw them qualify in third spot, and send the US crashing out.
We got knocked out by an absurd OG, Howard being beaten from 40 yards, a phantom goal in Panama and a shot rebounding in off Ochoa's head.
— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) October 11, 2017
It was a truly amazing sequence of events, but critics will point out that Arena’s team could have avoided it all by beating a poor Trinidad and Tobago side.
Pundits have described it as the ‘most embarrassing night in US soccer history”, but if the footballing gods are not with you, what can you do?