Landon Donovan says U.S. didn't deserve to qualify for 2018 World Cup
Former U.S. national team striker Landon Donovan had a harsh assessment of the team that failed to reach the 2018 World Cup, saying the Americans didn't deserve a spot in Russia after its calamitous qualifying campaign ended in a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night.
The loss, combined with wins from Honduras and Panama, left the U.S. in fifth in the qualifying table, outside the automatic bid places and the intercontinental playoff spot on offer for the fourth-place finisher.
In an interview on MLSSoccer. com, Donovan said: "We all know in sports anything can happen, you can lose games, that's all part of it. But the lack of urgency to really understand what was it stake was really disheartening for me and candidly it was really hard to watch."
And Donovan, who shares the all-time lead for goals scored for the national team with Clint Dempsey at 57, said the lack of urgency showed against a Trinidad team that had nothing to play for was the "most disturbing" aspect of the team's collective failure.
He said: "It should never come down to having score one goal in Trinidad to get to the World Cup. In our history we've had to do that, but I think we're past those days where that should happen. The reality is we lost two games at home in qualifying...and we lost a game in Trinidad against a team that had nothing to play for.
"And so that's sort of the reality of the situation. It's unacceptable in every way and it's disappointing and we got what we deserved.
"If you can't win more games at home in qualifying and if you can't beat Trinidad in a game that matters for us and doesn't for them, then you don't deserve to go to the World Cup."
Following the massive slip up by his team, U.S. national team and Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore issued a statement apologizing to fans on Wednesday.
In a Tweet addressed to U.S. fans, Altidore wrote: "I am so sorry we let you down this time around. You have all supported this team/program like no other and it pains us that we did not qualify.
"The worst part of this is not being able to see you all in Russia, enjoying the tournament and celebrating the continued growth of soccer in this country."
Altidore went on to say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and promised that the team will be back and better than ever when it comes time to qualify for the next World Cup in 2022, adding: "We need you now more than ever."
Finally, Major League Soccer, home to Altidore's club team, also released a statement on Wednesday saying there's "no denying" the U.S. national team's elimination from the World Cup is a setback, after the Americans had qualified for the previous seven editions of soccer's biggest international tournament.
"There is no denying that this is a setback for all of us involved with the game in our country. And while this is a missed opportunity for soccer in the United States, we remain incredibly bullish on the future of the sport," the league's statement said.
The league pledged to continue to invest in the sport, including player development programs and facilities, and said it would take stock in coming days to determine how to best boost the national team going forward.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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