How the United States Missed the World Cup, Minute by Minute

17’ Americans Stunned by Own Goal

The first sign of trouble comes at the same time as a hint of potential salvation. In San Pedro Sula, Oribe Peralta gives Mexico a 1-0 lead over Honduras at about the same moment United States defender Omar Gonzalez swings his leg toward Trinidad forward Shahdon Winchester in Couva. Gonzalez and Winchester both are racing to be first to a routine cross, but Winchester gets there first and the ball ricochets off him, then off Gonzalez’s shin, and then in a spinning loop over Tim Howard.

The Americans are stunned, and suddenly — improbably — trailing by 1-0. “One of the most unlucky goals ever, I think,” Gonzalez says, “and it’s one that will haunt me forever.”

Bradley calls the goal “a killer.” On the sideline, Arena fumes. “We foolishly brought Trinidad into the game,” he says after the match.

United States fans start rooting hard for Mexico and Costa Rica.


Alberth Elis of Honduras, center, and Eddie Hernandez celebrate after Elis put his country’s first goal past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Orlando Sierra/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

34’ Honduras Pulls Even

Bad news. Alberth Elis scores in San Pedro Sula, heading in a free kick at the back post to pull Honduras even.

36’ Costa Rica Helps U.S.

And suddenly, good news. In Panama City, Peter Venegas runs on to a through ball and deftly chips it over the sliding goalkeeper to give Costa Rica a 1-0 lead. A Panama loss guarantees the Americans at least a playoff spot.

37’ U.S. Goes Down, 0-2

The other games keep breaking the United States’ way. Carlos Vela restores Mexico’s lead against Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The goal is especially welcome to the Americans in Couva, where Alvin Jones’s screamer of a shot has just put Trinidad and Tobago ahead by 2-0 over a lethargic, and now extremely nervous, United States.

After Jones nearly fools Howard again from long range, the Americans are rattled, and the break is a welcome respite.

“We talked at halftime about a strong response,” Bradley says later, “and I still feel like everything was there for us. And it was.”


Christian Pulisic scores for the U.S. in the 47th minute.

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47’ U.S. Comes Out Swinging

The United States roars out of the locker room, with Christian Pulisic freeing himself to score less than 90 seconds into the second half. A few steps away, Jozy Altidore tells himself another goal is coming. “At that point in the game, you thought, maybe we have a chance here,” he says. But things are about to take a dark turn in Central America.

52’ Controversy in Panama City

Panamanian defender Ramon Torres heads a corner kick toward the back post, where it is knocked down amid a scramble. His teammate Blas Perez tries to get to the ball, but a defender hauls him down, and another lying on the goal line blocks its path into the net. The ball never crosses the line, but the referee mistakenly allows the goal.