The U.S. men's soccer team was eliminated from World Cup qualifiers Tuesday, a shocking result that could leave sponsors and media partners in the lurch for millions of dollars.
Heading into the final round of games, the US sit third in the standings with 12 points, two points clear of Panama and Honduras, their only rivals for the final automatic qualifying berth from CONCACAF. Viewership of soccer in the U.S. has eclipsed 20 million on five occasions, and four were for World Cup matches in the last cycle.
Coupled with victories by Panama and Honduras, the Americans (3-4-3) fell to fifth place in the six-team regional competition.
If FIFA had spent as much money on goal-line technology as it splurges on self-indulgent meetings, the United States might be going to the World Cup.
Instead, the Americans played a shameful first half and lost, 2-1, before a few thousand observers in a lonely little stadium 25 miles from the capital.
And what of North American leagues?
"You don't make wholesale changes on a ball being two inches wide or two inches in", he said, according to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle. Others said the collapse was proof that the U.S. player development system is inherently flawed. Gonzalez was marking Shahdon Winchester in the box and had a beat on the ball. It transitions to the second Bruce Arena tenure. It seemed like the proper moment to serve another dangerous cross. "Tonight is for getting over the shock a little bit".
The US hadn't missed the World Cup since 1986 and have generally made light work of qualifying. If this was Argentina or England, Germany or France, the resignation letter would come in the hours after the result.
There will be no highlights of Christian Pulisic on the biggest world stage next summer in Russia.
"It was the most unlucky goal ever for myself", Gonzalez said, "one that will haunt me forever".
Arena later added, "We should not be staying home for this World Cup". The U.S. was able to dictate its own fate - even a draw would have sent it to the cup.
Trinidad and Tobago was intent on stretching the lead, however. Down 1-0 halfway through the game, Panama found their equalizer when a loose ball in the aftermath of a corner kick danced around the Costa Rican goal. It's a sureness that permeates throughout the whole of the game in this country, where despite massive problems from youth development through the pro game, there is a belief that things are headed in the right direction.