The United States were on the brink of progressing into the knockout stages of the World Cup with a second group stage victory on Sunday, only for Portugal to agonizingly net a 95th minute equalizer. Silvestre Varela's late goal means the United States' progression into the next phase is no longer guaranteed, though the good news is that they're still in a pretty good position, despite a tough game against Germany still to come.
Portugal scores stunner
Heading into that match the United States are level on points with the group-leading Die Mannschaft, 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, in which case they would likely meet the Red Devils in the Round of 16.
Even a defeat against Germany could still allow the United States to progress, though then they're leaving their fortunes entirely in the hands of Portugal and Ghana. This is where things start to get a little complicated. Here are all the scenarios if the U.S. loses:
- If Portugal and Ghana draw, the United States will progress in second place.
- 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. 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. That's a fairly big final swing Portugal require. If they pull it back level, it would again go down to who scored the most goals in the group stages overall. Still deadlocked? They'd end up drawing lots for progression -- picking a name out of a hat, essentially. Ouch.
Let's just hope the United States make life easy for themselves and FIFA.