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World Cup Tiebreakers: How The United States Can Advance

The United States' draw with Portugal means they're not yet mathematically into the knockout stages. But they still stand a good chance of getting there.

Christopher Lee

While yesterday's result for the United States was a disappointing one, the tie didn't kill their chances of advancing to the knockout round all together. The 2-2 draw to Portugal did complicate things a bit but the US are still in a good spot for Thursday's final group game with Germany.

Heading into that match the United States are level on points with Germany, albeit with a three-goal deficit on goal differential. That means if the U.S. want to progress as group winners, thus avoiding having to play Belgium in the knockout stages, they need to beat Germany. However, a draw against Germany would still be enough to see the United States into the knockout stages in second place.

But if a win or a draw do not happen, things get a little bit dicy from there on.Even a defeat against Germany could still allow the United States to progress. Here are all the scenarios if the U.S. loses:

  • If Portugal and Ghana draw, the United States will progress in second place. (best possible chose out of these)
  • If Ghana win, they'd progress if they won by a couple of goals or more, or won by a single goal and the U.S. lost by more than one goal (so say the US lost 1-0 and Ghana won 2-0). If the United States and Ghana ended up level on goal differential, it would come down to who scored the most goals overall. If they were deadlocked still, the United States would progress as they've already beaten Ghana in the group stages.
  • If Portugal win, they'd need to overturn an even bigger goal differential deficit to progress ahead of the United States. Their goal differential heading into the final slate of games is minus-4, while the United States' is plus-1. Portugal would need to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-0 or 4-1, with the US losing 2-0 or 3-0.
  • Still deadlocked? They'd end up drawing lots. Let's hope it doesn't come down to that.
The chances are still really good for the US here to go through. We never make things easy on ourselves though do we?