A win or a tie would have done it. Or even one loss or tie by the underdogs in Tuesday night's other two qualifying games.
Or beating Honduras a month ago, or beating Panama in March, or not losing both games to Costa Rica.
A 2-1 loss Tuesday night to Trinidad and Tobago — the only team below the U.S. soccer team in the standings — and wins by Honduras and Panama over the qualifying tourney's best two teams mean the Americans will miss the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They'd played in seven World Cups in a row dating back to 1990.