Wilmer Cabrera - Houston Dynamo - close-up
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Houston Dynamo gutted for US, thrilled for Panamanian, Honduran teammates

HOUSTON – They earned it.

Those were the words of Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark when asked his thoughts on Houston teammates Adolfo Machado of Panama and Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia and Romell Quioto of Honduras earning a berth to the 2018 World Cup and intercontinental playoff against Australia, respectively.

And perhaps no statement about the US men’s national team’s failure to qualify rings truer than those words. As simple as they are.

When asked his thoughts on the US missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Clark, who’s been capped 34 times and played in the 2010 World Cup, was in disbelief.

“I’m in shock at the result. This game can be cruel,” Clark said. “I mean, even though the US didn’t play well, a lot of other things had to happen – and they did happen. That’s football. I mean, look at Honduras, you could have counted them out a couple months ago and they’re back in it. Same with Panama.”

The shockwaves weren’t limited to former players.

Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera coached the US Under-18 national team in 2007 before moving on to coach the US U-17s for five years.

“We are all in shock about what happened,” Cabrera said. “It was unexpected for all of us because of the quality of the team, the quality of the players and the quality of the staff, but all of those things happened.”

Cabrera, who was watching the US match on TV while taking in his native Colombia’s match against Peru on his laptop, did note that the USMNT’s failure to qualify for Russia was about far more than Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Trinidad & Tobago.

“You have 10 games and in 10 games you have 30 points. If you only achieve 12 points out of 30, you are not doing very well overall,” said Cabrera, who played in the 1994 World Cup with Colombia. “That’s my humble opinion.”

The 12 points are the fewest for the US in CONCACAF Hexagonal history, and kept the US out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The failure to qualify also ends Dynamo left back DaMarcus Beasley’s hopes of playing in his fifth World Cup. The 35-year-old was on the US roster for the last two qualifiers but didn’t play in either match.

“I feel gutted for all the guys out there, especially Beas,” said Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric. “It would have been something special for DaMarcus and I’m gutted that he can’t do that.”