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USMNT seals World Cup qualification, banishes demons of 2018 failure

The darkest days were tinged less with toxicity, more with indifference. They began in 2018, months after the World Cup qualifying failure that rocked American soccer, and droned on, and on, and on. Mediocre players came and went. An interim coach overstayed his mandate. And disillusioned fans lost interest.

They had, in the aftermath of the U.S. men’s national team’s worst night ever, developed an overpowering thirst for change — for a reckoning, an overhaul, an instant teardown and rebuild. It didn’t happen four years ago, or three. Hope seemed futile during a 14-month coaching search that landed on Gregg Berhalter, and shaky during his uninspiring first year on the job.