USA U-17 coach John Hackworth today said the country's elimination from the 2018 World Cup race has forced fans back home to pin their hopes on his young players.
The Americans' hopes of going to Russia next year came crashing down after they were stunned 1-0 by Trinidad & Tobago. It's the first time since 1986 that the team will miss out on the tournament.
In India, however, the Americans are on a roll having qualified for the pre-quarterfinals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with two convincing wins.
"It (the result in World Cup qualifiers) doesn't change what we as a group were trying to achieve in this tournament at all. It does put more focus on our team right now and that is tough for 17-year-old boys to understand what that means," the coach said.
"They don't know what that means, but there will be millions of fans back home, who are now turning their attention to this team, because its their hope. We are on an upward spiral," Hackworth said on the eve of their final Group A match against Colombia.
After qualifying for seven straight World Cup tournaments, the senior USA team will now have to wait until 2022 before they get the chance to play on the biggest stage in football.
Hackworth said that the next round would be "comparatively easier" if they top the group.
Colombia have so far competed in five editions of the tournament, finishing third on two occasions.