Archive

ShareThis Page
What do early World Cup exits by Panama, Costa Rica say about U.S.? | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

What do early World Cup exits by Panama, Costa Rica say about U.S.?

The Associated Press
AFP16J69A1
AFP/Getty Images
Panama's players pray after defeat during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Panama at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, 2018.
982176026
Alex Livesey | Getty Images
Christian Bolanos of Costa Rica during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

MOSCOW — Costa Rica and Panama were overwhelmed at the World Cup, both going two and out.

What does that say about the United States, which didn’t even make it to soccer’s showcase?

“It’s an extra twist of the knife,” said former U.S. forward Taylor Twellman, ESPN’s lead soccer analyst. “It’s another reminder that the failure to qualify is an absolute debacle.”

Beaten 3-0 by Belgium in its opener, Panama gave up five goals in the first half Sunday in a 6-1 loss to England. Costa Rica was defeated 1-0 by Serbia and 2-0 by Brazil.

Mexico is in good position to advance to the round of 16 after victories over defending champion Germany and South Korea. While the North and Central American and Caribbean region had three nations in the knockout rounds four years ago, this will be CONCACAF’s first World Cup since 2006 with fewer than two.

“Mexico is a good, solid team. So is Costa Rica. Panama is an inferior team in the competition,” former U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. “I feel strongly that we should have been the third team, but we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

The U.S. qualified for seven consecutive World Cups and advanced to the knockout round four times during that streak before missing out this year.

Costa Rica defeated the U.S. twice in qualifying, a 4-0 home rout in November 2016 that caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann and bring back Arena, and a 2-0 win in New Jersey last September.

Panama rallied with a late first-half goal to tie the U.S. at home in March 2017, and the Americans won 4-0 in Florida last October. The U.S. then lost 2-1 at Trinidad and Tobago when only a tie was needed to qualify. The Americans finished fifth in the six-nation final round, falling below Honduras, which lost a playoff to Australia.

“If the United States had qualified, we would have done much better than Costa Rica and Panama,” said Steve Sampson, the U.S. coach from 1995-98. “… With all the previous experience the United States would have, I’ve got to believe and I do believe that they would have done much better than Costa Rica and Panama in this World Cup.”

If Mexico moves on to the knockout rounds, which is likely, 13 of 24 CONCACAF teams will have reached the round of 16 since 1990.

“I think we have a long way to go,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said. “We still rank behind only UEFA on CONMEBOL in terms of points per game in World Cups historically, but, obviously, now our fate in terms of a run is in the hands of Mexico.”

Arena said poor officiating in CONCACAF holds back the region and cited Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha’s decisions to award penalty kicks when Fidel Escobar and Roman Torres knocked over Jesse Lingard, and when Anibal Godoy wrestled Harry Kane to the ground. That led to a pair of successful spot kicks by Kane as England built a 5-0 lead.

“You’d have to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer for them to call a penalty kick in CONCACAF,” Arena said.

Montagliani took Arena’s criticism in stride.

“That’s a bit of hyperbole from Bruce,” he said. “We’re always trying to improve refereeing. I think in this last qualifying, it’s the best I’ve seen it in a long time in CONCACAF. Obviously, spoken like a true coach, Bruce has always been griping about referees.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.