The second the final whistle blew at the Ato Boldon stadium, you had to know the memes were coming. The United States shockingly, and embarrassingly, will miss out on the 2018 Russia World Cup, thanks to a cataclysmic 2-1 loss on the road to Trinidad & Tobago. Combined with Honduras’ shock win over Mexico, and Panama’s possibly-phantom victory over Costa Rica, the results left the USMNT in 5th place of the Hex, 1 point below Honduras for the playoff spot.
To say that it’s the worst night in US soccer history is underselling this disaster; to miss the country’s first World Cup since 1986 with the amount of money pumped into US Soccer should embarrass everyone, from the upper echelons of the federation to the Chads watching at pubs and trying to figure which European power to root for now–you can’t go wrong with Germany, by the way. Already, a roar of dialog on social media and on the airwaves has begun calling for the demolition of “pay-for-play” systems that serve to lock anyone who can’t afford it out of quality training.
The internet mob has also begun to come for coach Bruce Arena and USSF president Sunil Gulati, and for good reason; after the incomprehensible firing of Jurgen Klinsmann, Gulati and co. assigned Arena, an MLS coach out of tune with the times, to shepherd the US to the World Cup, and he couldn’t even do that. Now, the US isn’t just out of a World Cup; they’re out a coach that at least had a direction for not just the team, but the entire program. Whether Arena is fired on Wednesday or in a month won’t matter without top-to-bottom reform of the US system. Otherwise, fans of the “Stars and Stripes” will have to get used to disappointment, and fast.
But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because the memes immediately took center stage, and between ambivalent fans wanting retweets and disillusion USMNT supporters that want reform, the jokes were hot and heavy.
Of course, with the World Cup being in Russia, a lot of the jokes referenced our long-running national nightmare of election interference and Trump. Sometimes, the easy path is the right path:
A vocal minority of fans also pointed that not only had the US Women made the World Cup, they’d actually won 3 tournaments outright. Maybe let’s pay the ladies of US Soccer more?
Then there were the all-purpose “the US is trash at soccer” memes, which generally dominated the conversation, and for good reason. Given how every non-Christian Pulisic USMNT player took the field last night, some massive changes will have to come down from the top to make sure this never happens again.
Then again, one user had the right idea: you can’t have heartbreak if you don’t even make the tournament!
Getting the last laugh of the night, however, was Iceland, whose soccer account threw just the right amount of shade at the USMNT. If you’re trying to pick a bandwagon team for 2018 now that the US is out, you could do worse than the thunder-clapping machine from Scandinavia.