A night of major shocks in the final stage of the CONCACAF "hex" as a late goal from Roman Torres secured Panama's ticket to their first World Cup finals on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, while the United States will miss out for the first time since 1986 after Honduras pipped them to a playoff place.
With Honduras stunning group winners Mexico 3-2, the United States' 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago saw them finish fifth in the six-team North, Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) final qualifying round.
Romell Quioto scored the winner in the 60th minute for Honduras, who will now face Australia in a two-leg playoff in November for another ticket to Russia.
US Soccer crash out
The United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after a surprise 2-1 defeat against already-eliminated Trinidad and Tobago.
In a result that will be viewed as a catastrophe for soccer in the United States, Trinidad took all three points via an Omar Gonzalez own goal and a superb strike from Alvin Jones.
US star Christian Pulisic pulled a goal back in the second half, but the increasingly desperate Americans were unable to find another to rescue their hopes.
Shellshocked US coach Bruce Arena said his team had "failed."
"Clearly we are very disappointed. We had everything there for us today. No excuses for us not getting a second goal and coming away with at least a point," Arena said.
"It's a blemish for us. We should not be staying at home for this World Cup and I take responsibility.
"It never mattered to us the scores of the other games. We failed on the day. No excuses. We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point."
Arena's side had needed only a draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium to secure at least a playoff spot.
After thrashing Panama 4-0 last Friday, the Americans had arrived in the Caribbean confident of securing the result needed to extend a proud record of qualifying for every World Cup since 1990.
Grant Wahl, the soccer writer for Sports Illustrated, described the loss as the "most surreal and embarrassing night in US soccer history", accusing the squad of complacency.
"This was a team with players acting like they thought they had already qualified for the World Cup, and it showed," Wahl wrote.