T-Bob: Will US escape death's clutches in World Cup?
by T-Bob Hebert,posted Jun 25 2014 4:45PM
*Chomp* *Chomp* *Chomp*
Whats that, you say? No, it is not the sound of Luis Suarez munching on another one of his futbol victims. Instead, it is me biting my fingernails down to the nub as I anxiously await USA’s huge match with Germany tomorrow in this “copas de copas.”
We all know how heartbreaking the ending of the Portugal game was for this team as they found themselves just 20 seconds away from escaping the clutches of the fabled “Group of Death.” The question now is, how will this US team respond? And what needs to happen for them to stare down the Grim Reaper and laugh in his face as they ascend to the knockout rounds in Brasil?
If you’ve been paying attention to the “sports scene” this last week chances are you have heard that the US has a 75% chance of advancing. Where exactly they get this number from, I am not so sure myself. However I have put together some incredibly easy to understand absolutely basic guidelines for what to cheer for if you want the US to advance.
First, get a result (win or tie) and advance. The only difference between the two is where the team will be seeded the next round. If they win the group, they will face Algeria, whereas if they come out of the group in second, they will have to play everyone’s sexy World Cup darkhorse Belgium.
So while a win would be nice for the US’s chances going forward, I don’t think they can count on it when playing one of the top 3 teams in the entire world.
Now, what happens if the US loses? How can they still advance? The simplest way for this to happen following a loss would be for Portugal and Ghana to tie, which would place those two sides at two points a piece with the US sitting pretty on four. If those two sides don’t tie, you should be cheering for Portugal, as the US has a goal differential advantage of five over Cristiano Ronaldo’s side (Portugal is -4 while the US is +1).
The reason this comes into play is that a US loss and Portugal win would put both teams at four points apiece and the first tie-breaker the World Cup uses is goal differential. This is important because Ghana is much closer to the United States in goal differential than Portugal. Ghana is minus one, while the US is plus one, thus equaling just a two goal net advantage for Klinsmann and co.
Granted, this is essentially a three goal advantage, because if goal differential is tied between two sides, the next tie breaker is head to head matchups which favors the red, white, and blue as they beat Ghana in the opening match of group play.
This sounds like the US team is pretty safe, until you think about some possible scorelines that would see them knocked out. Let's say the US loses 2-0 to Germany and Ghana wins 1-0 - that right there would be enough to knock out the Americans and complete everyone’s nightmare scenario.
The scary part is that both those scores seem frighteningly realistic when you look at how these four teams have played. I, however, am a firm believer in the style of futbol the US is playing right now, and I believe that they are too confident in themselves to be beaten that badly. I believe they get the job done and move on to play another day.
To paraphrase what to cheer for tomorrow:
1) US gets a win or tie and you're in.
2) Cheer for Portugal. If they win US almost assuredly moves on.
3) DON’T CHEER FOR GHANA.