Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) celebrates after scoring against the visiting USA in a World Cup qualifier on October 10, 2017, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)
COUVA, Trinidad -- Trinidad & Tobago pulled off a stunning 2-1 upset to deny the United States a trip to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986 at Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday night.
The last-place Soca Warriors (2W-0D-8L, 6 points) used an Omar Gonzalez own-goal and a brilliant Alvin Jones strike to thwart the Americans in the last game of CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018.
The U.S. (3-3-4, 12 points), which started the day in third place, had qualified for seven consecutive World Cups since 1986. Panama qualified as the third place side and Honduras finished fourth, setting up an intercontinental playoff meeting with Australia in November.
T&T came out with impressive purpose and surprised the U.S. with a pair of first-half goals.
First, Jones sliced a right-wing cross that Gonzalez miskicked into his own net past goalkeeper Tim Howard for a 1-0 Trinidad lead in the 17th minute.
Jones was far from finished. He found himself open on the right side and unleashed a 35-yard shot that found its way into the left corner past a diving Howard for a 2-0 advantage.
Two minutes into the second half, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic cut the lead in half for the U.S., powering a shot from the top of the penalty arc beyond goalkeeper Adrian Foncette.
Foncette came up huge for T&T in the 69th minute, parrying away second-half substitute Clint Dempsey's attempt from atop the penalty area.
Eight minutes later, Dempsey endured even more frustration as his shot glanced off the right post.
Foncette denied a last-ditch attempt by the U.S., diving to his left to knock away Bobby Wood’s six-yard header in the 88th minute.