In the closing minute of extra time on Sunday, citizens throughout the country waited in anticipation of the final whistle, one that would secure the United States’ entry into the knockout stage of the World Cup. Up 2-1 with precious time ticking away, all the Americans needed to do was keep the Portuguese from netting a desperation goal. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s beautiful cross created an opportunity, and Portugal seized it quickly in order to stay alive. In one swift motion, the group standings became immensely complicated. Though the U.S. is still in second place at the moment, all four teams are still in contention to advance. The Americans would have moved on from Group G if they had held on, but there’s still a good chance the USA ends up in first or second place after the match with Germany. Here are a few scenarios that could play out in the coming days.
The USA Will Advance If…
We beat Germany. This outcome would give us seven points, leave Germany with four, and regardless of what happens with Portugal v. Ghana, the USA would be moving on as the group winner.
We tie Germany. This scenario would leave both the Americans and the Germans with five points each. No matter what happens in the other game, the teams can max out their points at four points respectively, and neither Ghana nor Portugal would qualify to advance.
Germany defeats the USA and Portugal v. Ghana ends in a tie. Though we would still have only four points after a loss, Ghana and Portugal would only match our total with their combined point count.
The USA Will Be Eliminated If…
We lose to Germany, and there is a decisive winner in the Portugal v. Ghana match. Losing to Germany would leave us with a mere four points. If Portugal wins, they would end with four points as well. If Ghana wins, they will reach that same mark. In the case of ties in the group stage at the World Cup, the rankings are determined by goal differential.
Portugal is in a tough spot because of their early 4-0 loss against the Germans. The Portuguese currently have a goal differential of -4. They would need to win by a large margin, while also hoping the Americans lose by two or more goals. This situation seems unlikely.
Ghana is in a better position so it is more realistic that in some twisted way they end up eliminating America from the World Cup for the third consecutive time. If Ghana beats Portugal by more than one goal AND the US loses to Germany by more than one goal, the Black Stars would advance.
To conclude, Germany and the USA are in prime position to move out of Group G. It would be mutually beneficial for the teams to accept a draw. It’s hard to say what the strategy will be for the Americans going into the game against Germany. There is a multitude of ways that the USMNT can squeeze through their opening in the group of death. No matter the outcome, Group G’s next two matches will cap off an exciting start to the 2014 World Cup for America.