And then there were the memes, mostly mocking President Trump. In one, he throws paper towels over the waterlogged field to his team on the other side. Another takes the form of a fake tweet from the president’s account: “But why do we have to play against 2 teams, Trinidad AND Tobago??? Not fair.”
Darryl Smith, the country’s sports minister, said he spent much of the night celebrating the victory at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, in the central part of Trinidad. Ultimately, it seemed, what was important wasn’t whether the island advanced, but rather the drama that unfolded.
“This was good for football since it was nail-biting till the end,” he said. “We haven’t won for a while. The U.S.A. has been a rival since 1989 when we were stuffed out by them.”
Mr. Smith was alluding to a painful date in the history of sports on the islands — Nov. 19, 1989 — when the Trinidad and Tobago Strike Squad, its soccer team, needed only a draw with the United States to qualify for the World Cup.
Instead, all hopes were dashed before a crowd of 25,000 at the country’s national stadium, who watched the Americans prevail 1-0. Trinidad and Tobago has qualified for the World Cup only once since.
“I was 6 years old when we lost to the U.S.,” said Michelline Dasrathsingh, 34, who took her young son to watch the match against the Americans on Tuesday evening.
The crowd was small, perhaps expecting another defeat. Few could believe it when Trinidad began scoring against the United States — once, then a second time — and the Americans were never able to catch up.
“There was singing and dancing at the final whistle,” Ms. Dasrathsingh said.
The D.J. at the stadium blasted the song “Fighter,” a calypso tune dedicated to the Soca Warriors, the last team from the islands to make it to the World Cup, in Germany in 2006.
Everol Bruce, 58, a retired police officer, was still replaying the game in his head on Wednesday. The ground was good for a game that night, if a bit damp, he said. The Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper performed marvelously.
“It was fate,” he said at last. “The better team won that night.”
Alvin Corneal, a local commentator and former coaching instructor, said the victory stemmed from the psychology of the Trinidad and Tobago team’s having nothing to lose. He also said the team, unnoticed by United States, had improved and shifted players in preparation for the game with the Americans.
Mr. Corneal says the team still has a lot of work to do, but the win would lift morale.
As for the Americans, he said: “They got the shock of their lives. I am happy that the U.S.A. should realize that there are other people in the world who exist.”