The U.S. had failed to qualify for nine straight World Cups since 1950. The North American Soccer League had folded after the 1984 season, and the U.S. Soccer Federation left its longtime office in the Empire State Building the following year to save money, moving first to a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport and then to Colorado Springs.
When the U.S. team traveled to Trinidad from Miami via Barbados on a commercial flight two days before the Americans' final qualifier for the 1990 World Cup, the mostly amateur players were met at the airport just past midnight by fans packed eight deep and chanting "Go Home! Go Home!" as the team w...
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