In wake of the U.S.’s elimination from World Cup qualifying, Michael Lewis will be writing a series of columns about the state of soccer in this country. This is his first piece.
By Michael Lewis
No matter where I have traveled in the world, soccer fans and media have brought up one aspect of U.S. national teams that has been a hallmark for years, if not decades.
They never give up — women or men.
Which brings us to Tuesday night’s fiasco at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad.
Don’t think we have to remind you what transpired there — the absolute most shocking and cataclysmic result in U.S. Soccer history: a 2-1 loss to a lowly Trinidad & Tobago side that had produced only one win prior in the 10-game CONCACAF Hexagonal.
A draw would have sufficed for an American side in that World Cup qualifier that rarely showed enough effort to warrant a spot in the World Cup.
Instead, we witnessed a distressing, horrific performance from a team that will live in infamy in U.S. soccer history.
Future coaches and players should take that performance and utter these words:
Never again will an American soccer team give less than that proverbial 100 percent effort.
Never again will an American soccer team talk a good game then go out and play the worst game of their lives.
And never again will an American soccer team fail, embarrass itself and soccer in this country in a putrid performance like that.
Let’s give the Soca Warriors credit. Despite already having been eliminated from qualifying, they worked hard and picked their moments. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain while securing a victory.
The U.S. team lost more than a game Tuesday night. It lost its dignity and a soccer nation as well.
I have seen losing and struggling high school teams, players who are playing for pride and their school, work harder than the highly paid players on U.S. squad did Tuesday.
In contrast to the Americans’ lack of effort, the never-say-die Panamanian squad that looked like the old U.S. sides from back in the day, never giving up securing its first trip to the World Cup in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in San Jose. Yeah, the same city U.S. teams go to die during World Cup qualifying.
How ironic that two of the most contrasting moments in U.S. soccer history occurred on a Caribbean island 28 years apart. The first event, of course, was the Red, White and Blue’s 1-0 triumph over T&T Nov. 19, 1989, which secured the USA’s first World Cup appearance in 40 years.
At the other end of the spectrum was the Tuesday night debacle. Mark that date — Oct. 10, 2017.
Afterwards, center back Omar Gonzalez lamented the own goal he scored that lifted the Soca Warriors to a one-goal lead.
“It’s one that will haunt me forever,” he said.
What Gonzalez said should go for his teammates as well.
They will be haunted on what happened on that field. As they should.
Anyone who has any interest in the game of soccer in this country, should remember those words: