Trinidad and Tobago loss the most humiliating in U.S. soccer history
In the days after the failure of the United States to beat Trinidad and Tobago in a game that meant only pride to the hosts, the humiliation of the loss lingers. With an opportunity to go to an eighth World Cup on the line, the Americans showed none of the grit and determination that traditionally is a staple of the team's game.
Determining where that embarrassment ranks all time isn't easy. The United States didn't take the sport seriously for much of the 20th century and can count a number of bad losses on its record.
Here are the five worst humiliations in USMNT history; you can probably guess what's at No. 1.
5. 11-0 vs. Norway, 1948 friendly
A game from the pre-dawn era of American soccer makes the list largely because of the severity of the defeat. Norway's 11-0 win included five goals from forward Odd Wang Sorensen, nearly 30 percent of the 17 goals he would score in his international career. His haul remains the record for a single game by a Norwegian player.
The defeat in Oslo came just two years before the historic 1-0 victory by the U.S. over mighty England at the 1950 World Cup. Walter Bahr, Charles Colombo, Gino Pariani and John Souza all started both games, participating in both the worst defeat in American soccer history and one of its greatest wins.
4. 3-0 vs. Czech Republic, 2006 World Cup
Four years after their run to the World Cup quarterfinals -- where the U.S. pushed Germany to the brink -- the Americans had designs on an even more impressive showing at the 2006 tournament.
But in a opening game that ultimately set the tone for a letdown of a campaign, the Americans were dominated by the Czech Republic in a 3-0 loss in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. It took less than five minutes for the Czechs to find an opener on a header by Jan Koller, a bad omen for an old U.S. side unsuited to chasing the game. Tomas Rosicky scored twice to seal the result.
The Americans went on to earn a point against eventual champion Italy before crashing out in a loss to Ghana.
3. 2-1 vs. Iran, 1998 World Cup
This game is mostly remembered for the tense political atmosphere surrounding it, but it also represented a particular failure for head coach Steve Sampson and the American team. Working to build off of their surprising knockout-round appearance in 1994, the U.S. had played stiff competition leading into France '98.
The internal drama that led to John Harkes being left out partially undermined Sampson's work, though the coach's tactics never took. Against Iran in their second group stage game, the Americans fell behind just after half-time and conceded again six minutes before the end.
Having already lost to Germany, the defeat to Iran was a backbreaker; with no points and no momentum, the U.S. went on to lose to Yugoslavia in their final group stage match, ending the tournament with zero points.
2. 2-1 v. Jamaica, 2015 Gold Cup
Once upon a time, the U.S. was a shoo-in to reach every Gold Cup final. Yes, the tournament has been played at least partially in the United States since a revamp in 1991, but that fact only adds to the humiliation of the side's 2015 semifinal loss to Jamaica at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Americans had never lost to the Reggae Boyz on American soil coming into the game and were expected to set up another Gold Cup final showdown with Mexico with a win. Instead, a looping Darren Mattocks header staked Jamaica to a lead in the 31st minute that Giles Barnes doubled with a fantastic free kick five minutes later.
The U.S. couldn't even salvage a bit of pride with third place, losing to Panama on penalties a few days later.
1. 2-1 v. Trinidad and Tobago, 2018 World Cup qualifier
There's only one choice for No. 1 on the list. With a World Cup berth on the line against an already eliminated, last-place team, the United States laid an egg in Trinidad. Bruce Arena got nearly everything wrong -- tactics, personnel, preparation -- and the Americans conceded two very soft goals.
Not since the national team was made up of college kids has the U.S. failed to qualify for the planet's biggest sporting event. A group of players born and raised during the rise of U.S. soccer, replete with considerations and conveniences many of their predecessors could only dream of, showed no fight and no heart in a deciding game against a CONCACAF minnow.
That's the sort of shame that lingers...
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.