Chart shows how unlikely the United States' nightmare World Cup scenario was before it came true

Heading into the U.S. Men’s National Team’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago, it looked like the Americans were going to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. That is, until the seemingly impossible happened.

There was only one scenario in which the U.S. would be knocked out — a U.S. loss, and wins by both Panama and Honduras. Any other combination of events, including ties, and the U.S. would have either qualified or they would have still been alive with a play-in against Australia.

How unlikely was the nightmare scenario that came true? Prior to the loss to Trinidad & Tobago, the U.S. still had a 94% chance to qualify for the World Cup, based on simulations at But instead of moving on, the U.S. is out, Panama is in, and Honduras will face Australia.

Here are how the chances for each nation on CONCACAF changed throughout the tournament, with the improbable switch at the very end.

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