Mitch's Sports Report: U.S. Men Fail Spectacularly In Bid To Qualify For World Cup Of Soccer
One day after Iceland made history as the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup of soccer, one of the biggest failed to make the cut.
The U.S. men's soccer team had only to avoid defeat. Even a tie against Trinidad and Tobago would get them into the 2018 tournament, but the Americans lost 2-1 and will be on the outside looking in when the world's best soccer teams meet next year in Russia. The game was a disaster almost from the outset when Jozy Altidore blew a chance seven minutes in to put the U.S. up 1-Nil, firing an open shot at goal over the crossbar. Then in the seventeenth minute Trinidad and Tobago got on the board thanks to an own goal that went off Omar Gonzalez, and the hosts put the game away for good with another goal in the 37th minute by Trinidad and Tobago's Alvin Jones.
Christian Pulisic made it a 2-1 game in the 47th minute but you could tell it was not in the cards for the U.S. when Clint Dempsey hit the post in the 77th minute and no equalizer would come, marking the first time since 1986 that the U.S. men will miss playing in the biggest sporting tournament in the world.
It's a terrible defeat for the U.S. team, and Trinidad and Tobago didn't even have the motivating factor of making the tournament themselves. They had already been eliminated and were playing for pride in front of their home crowd as well as the opportunity to be a spoiler for the Americans, a role they played to perfection, much to the consternation of the United States.
And the U.S. loss opens the door for a nation that had never made the World Cup before, and that's Panama, which gets in over the U.S. due to that devastating loss. And Argentina is in, thanks to a 3-1 victory over Ecuador, with all three Argentinean goals scored by one player, one of the world's best, Lionel Messi, pulling off the hat trick.
In Major League Baseball the Chicago Cubs had to delay for at least one more day their chance to return to the National League championship series as game four against the Washington Nationals was rained out in Chicago last night. They'll play at Wrigley today at 4 o'clock with the Cubs leading two games to one.
And in Cleveland tonight, one game will decide whether the Indians or NY Yankees will moveon to face the Houston Astros in the Amercian League championship series. CC Sabathia faces his old team for the Yankees while Cleveland hopes their ace Corey Kluber can pitch far better than he did in game two of the series when he was knocked out early. Sabathia pitched brilliantly in game two and this series might have already been over in favor of New York had manager Joe Girardi not pulled Sabathia early from the game with a five run lead, and had he not failed to challenge a hit batsman call that video replay revealed was instead an inning-ending foul tip strike three. That decision led to a grand slam by Francisco Lindor that put the Indians right back in the game, which they eventually won in 13 innings. But all of that will be forgotten if the Yankees win tonight.
In the NHL, smaller players these days are finding ways into a game that's been dominated for many years by more hulking skaters, with the emphasis now on speed and skill, and one of those littler guys, 5'7" Alex DeBrincat, scored his first career goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in their 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens last night. He also added an assist, and the 19 year old rookie can also take some satisfaction knowing that Chicago drafted him with a pick they obtained in a trade with Montreal.
The St. Louis Blues have yet to lose a game this season, now 4-0 after beating the NY Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden on the strength of goals by Carl Gunnarsson and Brayden Schenn. The Rangers are slow out of the gate this year at just 1-3 to start.
Locally, in college field hockey, two goals in a six minute span in the second half gave the Saint Michael's Purple Knights a 2-0 win over International College. Senior Jackie Matthews and junior Morgan Johnston tallied for St. Mike's, now 5-7 on the season.
In hockey played on ice, the UVM women's team romped to a 7-0 shut out win over Union, with Ève-Audrey Picard getting into the record books. Picard scored a hat trick and then added a fourth, setting a new varsity single-game record with those four goals.
In men's college soccer Franklin Pierce beat rival St. Michael's 4-1 in New Hampshire. Adrian Diaz got the only tally for the Purple Knights.