It's been 24 years since Paul Caligiuri scored a frantic goal in Trinidad, allowing the Americans to squeak into their first World Cup in four decades. Since then, the U.S. is one of only seven countries to participate in every World Cup tournament.
But by now, with MLS installed as a legitimate pro league, with so many U.S. players performing in top leagues abroad, with so much money in the U.S. Soccer Federation coffers, you would think that qualifying against tiny, struggling nations in the CONCACAF region would be a snap. Clearly, that isn't the case, as the 2-1 loss in Honduras on Wednesday demonstrated anew during the opening match of the final World Cup qualifying round.
The Central American venues are hostile and winning on the road anywhere is difficult. Jurgen Klinsmann said this week he wouldn't even expect Spain to have an easy time when it goes to a place like Albania. Yet the problem appears sometimes to be more than that and Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, suggested the Americans may simply not be as desperate as their opponents.