The United States will not be at World Cup 2018.
Let that sink in.
After qualifying for seven straight World Cups, the nightmare scenario occurred Tuesday night. Despite over a 90 percent chance of advancing to Russia, the U.S. team couldn’t get a result against last-place Trinidad & Tobago and will now be staying home next summer.
The worst part is that I can’t help but think of all the moments we lost because of the U.S. team failing to qualify.
Gone are the early mornings calling in sick from work to watch a group stage game with friends. Gone are the long lunches and midday meetings at bars across the country to watch the U.S. score another late-game winner. Gone are the moments embracing complete strangers after upset victories and heartbreaking losses.
As soccer fans, these memories are what make us whole – from the ultimate highs to the lowest lows.
I will always remember my entire office of casual fans coming to a standstill in the late minutes of the Algeria game in World Cup 2010, and crying joyous tears in front of my confused colleagues after Landon Donovan scored his miracle goal that allowed us to advance.
I still remember screaming out loud in an empty apartment for what felt like 30 minutes after Abby Wambach scored an insane header as part of a last-minute comeback against powerhouse Brazil in World Cup 2011.
And I will never forget getting soaked in beer showers and embracing complete strangers at a local San Diego bar when John Brooks scored the late-game winner against Ghana in 2014.
At the same time, I also remember sitting for hours in an empty bar after the U.S. Women fell to Japan in penalty kicks at the 2011 World Cup final. And making new friends with fellow U.S. supporters as we wallowed in our sorrow following the loss to Belgium in 2014.
Every soccer fan has stories just like this.
This is what makes international soccer so unique. It’s more than a sport.
On Tuesday, U.S. soccer fans lost countless memories from summer 2018. Yes, we will rebuild and the heartache today will make the success of tomorrow that much sweeter.
But for now, it’s OK to express how much this hurts.