Speed Reads

World Cup

How the U.S. men's soccer team can still advance in the World Cup

Had the U.S. men's soccer team beaten Portugal Sunday, the Americans would have locked up a spot in the second round of the World Cup. They settled for a draw. And though the U.S. is still favored to escape Group G, there are a number of possible outcomes.

The U.S. will automatically advance with a win or a draw against Germany. Germany will also move on with a win or a draw, which is why there's some speculation both teams will park the bus and settle for a symbiotic stalemate.

If the U.S. loses, it can still advance, but the path to do so would be much trickier. In the event of a loss, the U.S. would advance if Portugal and Ghana tie, or if one team wins but still winds up behind the U.S. on a tiebreaker. As for tiebreakers, they go, in order: goal differential, goals scored, and then head-to-head results.

On goal differential, the U.S. is at +1, followed by Ghana (-1) and Portugal (-4.) So, assuming a U.S. loss, Ghana would need to win and pick up a net +3 in goal differential relative to the Americans — i.e. the U.S. loses 1-0, while Ghana wins 2-0 — to advance outright. If Ghana wins but only evens the goal differential, it will come down to goals scored, where the U.S. currently has a one-goal edge. If the teams finish with the same number of goals scored, the U.S. will squeak through because they won their match with Ghana.

As for Portugal, it would have to win and pick up a net +5 in goal differential relative to the U.S. to advance outright, or pick up +4 in goal differential while also netting at least three more goals than the Americans. Basically, it needs a blowout win and a blowout U.S. defeat to sneak through.

All four teams play at noon Thursday. If your coworkers disappear for a two-hour-long lunch, that might be why.