US coach Bruce Arena on World Cup failure: “We have no excuses. We failed.”
A dejected US national team head coach Bruce Arena did not mince words when asked to analyze the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after their 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
“We didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” Arena said in his postgame press conference. “That was my job. To get the team qualified for the World Cup.”
“This game in my view was perfectly positioned for the US team and we failed on the day,” Arena continued. “We have no excuses. We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point.”
Claiming just 12 points from an available 30 during their 10 Hexagonal World Cup qualifying matches, Arena labeled the US campaign as “inconsistent.”
“It’s clearly good for CONCACAF that it was such a competitive go at it this time around,” Arena said. “Certainly Mexico has been the dominant team in the Hex. Costa Rica proved to be of quality. And the teams that finished 3rd [Honduras], 4th [Panama] and 5th [USA] were pretty inconsistent throughout the campaign.”
And Arena didn’t pull any punches when breaking down the play of his team.
“Clearly 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. And no excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point out of the game. 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 center backs were not confident enough with the ball,” he continued. “Our forwards were not able to hold the ball. They did a poor job there. We didn’t get [Christian] 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?
“I think it’s disappointing,” Arena continued. “It’s a blemish for us. We should not be staying home for this World Cup. And I take the responsibility for that.”