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  • Soca Warriors send U.S. packing.

    Soca Warriors send U.S. packing. | Photo: Reuters

Panama qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time, prompting President Juan Carlos Varela to declare a national holiday. 

On Tuesday night, the U.S. soccer team suffered a devastating 1-2 loss which resulted in the North Americans – for the first time in three decades – not qualifying for the World Cup.

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The Concacaf giants were felled by Caribbean minnows Trinidad and Tobago, who finished at the bottom of their qualifying group. The U.S. last missed the World Cup finals in 1986.

"We failed on the day. No excuses," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said after the fixture. "We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point."

Trinidad's Soca Warriors got on the scoreboard first when Omar Gonzalez deflected a 17th-minute cross that looped over Tim Howard and into the U.S. goal. Alvin Jones fired a shot from the right flank past Howard to give the hosts a 2-0 cushion at the break.

The U.S., through Christian Pulisic, pulled one back at the beginning of the second half, but was subsequently unable to find the back of the net.

“Clearly very disappointing,” Arena told reporters. “It’s a blemish for us. We should not be staying home for this World Cup and I take the responsibility for that.”

In a game of numbers, Panama and Honduras – both vying for qualifying spots in the same group – logged wins Costa Rica and Mexico, respectively, to leapfrog the U.S.

But it was the unlikely Panama that jumped into an automatic qualifying spot, while Honduras will be charged to better Oceanic division's Australia in a return leg playoff for a Russian berth.

With the win, Panama qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time, prompting President Juan Carlos Varela to declare a national holiday.

"It is a historic day for the country. Tomorrow will be free for the public and private sector workers.

"On a national holiday, also classes are suspended at the country's private and public schools, celebrate family."

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