Whew. Where do we begin. The final match day of 2018 World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF (North America, Central America & Caribbean) and CONMEBOL (South America) was intense. With the fate of several teams, including Argentina, Chile, Peru and the United States, all being decided in one day, this match day was not for the faint of heart.
Before the matches began, all eyes were on perennial World Cup favorite Argentina. Despite boasting the top player in the world, Lionel Messi, Argentina was in danger of elimination with a loss. Would Messi lead his team to victory and a trip to Russia?
Next was Peru. With a victory, “La Blanquirroja” had a chance to book a ticket to the World Cup for the first time since 1982.
The United States, despite its earlier struggles during qualification, looked to be in a good position to qualify. All the U.S. needed to advance was a win or draw against Trinidad & Tobago, a team that was already eliminated from World Cup qualification.
As the day progressed, there were lots of goals and several unexpected plot twists. Here’s how it all went down.
Less than a minute after Argentina vs. Ecuador kicked off, Ecuador scored a goal. If the result held, Argentina would have been eliminated.
— Joe Perin (@djpthethird) October 10, 2017
But sure enough, Lionel Messi put the team on his back, scoring a hat trick to seal a victory and a trip to the World Cup.
— Abdul55 (@Catalan_W5) October 11, 2017
Messi’s clutch performance made it look like this was Argentina’s starting lineup:
Messi quieted those who said he could only perform at a high level for his club team, Barcelona.
MESSSI MESSI MESSSI!
Carrying Argentina like… pic.twitter.com/Jq5gWy2ffc
— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) October 11, 2017
Once again, Messi became more than a hero.
Screenshot of Messi goal pic.twitter.com/6woZtXka5e
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) October 10, 2017
Colombia vs. Peru was a nail-biter, with Colombia striking first and Peru leveling the score in the second half. The game ended in a 1-1 draw…
— Gurjit (@GurjitAFC) October 11, 2017
… which meant Chile was out of the World Cup after its 0-3 loss to Brazil.
Todo vuelve Chile 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/Edy5Rqu3lw
— Jorge Boca (@12Jorgecabj) October 11, 2017
The CONMEBOL teams that qualified for the World Cup were Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia. Peru kept its World Cup hopes alive and will have a two-match playoff versus New Zealand.
Chile, the reigning Copa America champs, will experience the World Cup like many of us:
— Diego Gard (@diepanda_13) October 11, 2017
Like Argentina, the United States gave up an early goal. Unfortunately for the Stars & Stripes, they gave up a second goal to Trinidad & Tobago.
Incredible strike from Alvin Jones. What a hit pic.twitter.com/VfhZwuGPDd
— Jordan Nunes (@JordanNunes123) October 11, 2017
Despite being down 0-2, the U.S. was still on track to make the World Cup. Why? By halftime, Panama and Honduras, the two teams that could leapfrog the U.S. in the standings, were also losing.
Honduras and Panama both losing. US VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY lucky right now.
— Greg_YNWA1 (@Greg_YNWA1) October 11, 2017
Christian Pulisic gave the USMNT a lifeline with an early second half goal.
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) October 11, 2017
All the U.S. needed was another goal to tie the match.
But as the clock ticked, Honduras tied things up with Mexico AND Panama tied things up with Costa Rica.
Oh dear. pic.twitter.com/VdGWWZ7JUA
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 11, 2017
Both Mexico and Costa Rica had already booked their tickets to Russia.
Then Honduras took a 3-2 lead over Mexico…
Romell Quioto gives Honduras the 3-2 lead over Mexico! Listen to the call. Just glorious as the crowd goes absolutely bonkers. Goooooaaallll pic.twitter.com/LZbymxmd1k
— Windy City iGGY (@windycityiggy) October 11, 2017
… Panama took a 2-1 lead over Costa Rica…
— TVN Panamá (@tvnpanama) October 11, 2017
And the United States, which failed to score another goal, was eliminated.
— Kevin Wade (@KwadeSays) October 11, 2017
The CONCACAF teams that qualified for the World Cup were Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. Honduras will face off Australia in a two-game playoff.
Naturally, USMNT fans were devastated.
Fire everyone. #USMNT
— James Stevenson (@JamesStevenson) October 11, 2017
U.S. soccer journalist Grant Wahl summed up it this way:
The United States has been eliminated from World Cup 2018. The most surreal and embarrassing night in US soccer history.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 11, 2017
Of course, rival fans were ready with the memes.
— Sopitas (@sopitas) October 11, 2017
— The Stray Goat 🐐 (@thestraygoat) October 11, 2017
Even U.S. fans were roasting their team…
— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) October 11, 2017
… and themselves.
Blue = Disappointed that USA soccer team lost
Red = Didn't know there was a game pic.twitter.com/WidbEqpo4O
— Denlesks (@Denlesks) October 11, 2017
It seemed like Pulisic was the only player to escape criticism.
— Vanessa I. Oblinger (@VanessaOblinger) October 11, 2017
Just how unlikely was the result? Here are some numbers for you:
There were 27 possible W-L-D combinations between the US, Honduras and Panama tonight. Only 1 of 27 eliminated the US from the World Cup.
— Dave Finocchio (@DaveFinocchio) October 11, 2017
With the U.S., Chile and Netherlands all eliminated from the World Cup, some Mexico fans rejoiced.
Holanda, Chile y Estados Unidos están eliminados el mismo día. Cuanta gloria pic.twitter.com/NlxZEcrjhP
— PorElTítulo 🇲🇽 (@poreltitulomx) October 11, 2017
The U.S. eliminated Mexico from the World Cup in 2002, Argentina eliminated Mexico in back-to-back World Cups (2006 and 2010), and Netherlands eliminated Mexico in 2014 (the infamous “No Era Penal” match).
But the biggest party will happen today in Panama…
— #WCQ ⚽️🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) October 11, 2017
… where President Juan Carlos Varela declared a public holiday so the country can celebrate its first appearance in a World Cup.
Es un día histórico para el país. Mañana será libre para los trabajadores del sector público y privado.
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) October 11, 2017
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