If only we had qualified. American flags would be waving proudly. Red, white and blue would be the only colors that matter. Crowds would gather in the thousands for watch parties. The bars would be so packed that police would have come to enforce fire safety rules. Social media would only have one thing trending: #USA. The Star Spangled Banner would be sung as one, raising the hairs on your neck and giving you the chills. You’d get showered with beer as you sing, dance and jump. Most importantly, you’d feel the love and passion of the game. A game that could send you from agony to ecstasy in a blink of an eye.

Not happening in 2018.

The United States Men’s National Team failed to the qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. A country with a population of 325 million failed to finish ahead of Panama (four million), Honduras (nine million), Costa Rica (five million) and Mexico (127 Million) in the forgiving CONCACAF final World Cup qualifying stage. Going into Tuesday’s crucial qualifier versus Trinidad and Tobago, the Yanks had a 93% chance of moving on the World Cup.

Ninety-three percent! Hollywood would have to write a script for the U.S. not to qualify.

Ninety minutes later, the team would be sent packing, against all odds.

We had a 93 percent chance of moving on and we failed. It was the of death U.S. Soccer.

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We, the soccer community, were all heartbroken and helpless, shocked yet speechless and just angry. It felt like U.S. soccer just got hit by the same asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. There’s no undo button to click or turning back time. USA just lost an entire generation of footballers. Now, America’s youth won’t be inspired by wonderboy Christian Pulisic because he doesn’t even have the opportunity to play. Nor will Major League Soccer be able to ride wave created by the World Cup. Soccer will not take another step towards latching onto America’s DNA.

What make a bad situation worse is that this was a chance for the U.S. to unite, something we’ve struggled to do in recent memory.

Take a look around you. The media is only filled with divisive content. Social media is depressing. Late night comedy doesn’t make you laugh anymore. Hollywood has turned into a propaganda machine. Politics have turned into America’s second civil war. We as a society are so polarized and divided on every single issue — from individual rights to pronoun usage — and from common sense reform to the National anthem, people don’t even want to have a conversation. We disagree more than we agree. There’s no respect for each other. When’s the last time we rallied together, or were proud to be an American? Sadly, the only time we come together is when it’s absolutely necessary — meaning in moments of disaster.

Red, white and separated.

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The World Cup brings individuals of literally every background together to ride the roller coaster of the match. Society freezes as all the bickering, yelling and hating vanish. It’s a priceless drug — without it, we’d be at each other’s throats constantly.

Rooting for the U.S. at the World Cup was the only escape we had left. Call me a romantic, but I’ve seen it bring us together unlike anything else. If you disagree, name me the last time we came to together as a country in millions for one cause? Where we all rooted for the same outcome. Where social class, religion, race and whatever else did not matter. Because it’s not the arts. Or music or entertainment. Not some food. Not the holidays. Definitely not the effort by our government. Not even the other football — America’s most popular sport — bring people together as the World Cup does.

I’m afraid the only opportunity we as America to unite is gone and it is well worth noting because it’s true.

Still don’t believe me? It was there last World Cup in 2014. I was part of it. A moment I will never forget. We will now have to wait until 2022 for another chance.

Steven Jotterand ([email protected]) is a junior studying journalism.