The U.S. men’s soccer team tied Portugal after Cristiano Ronaldo set up Varela for a late equalizer on a hot and humid night in the jungle Sunday in the teams’ opening round matchup at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Had the American team held on for just 30 seconds longer, they would have been guaranteed a spot in the next round before they even played their next and final group-stage match against the number 2 team in the world, Germany.
All is not lost, however, especially after the American’s 2-1 triumph over World Cup nemesis Ghana in their first game.
The United States and Germany both have four points and are atop Group G over Ghana and Portugal who have one point each. In the group stage of the World Cup, wins are worth three points, and draws are worth one point. All four teams have one game remaining.
Germany and the U.S. will play Thursday in Recife, and Ghana and Portugal will kick off at the same time in Brasilia.
Here are the scenarios:
If the U.S. wins: The Americans are through to the next round as the winners of Group G and will play the second place team from Group H. (Belgium currently leads Group H, followed by Algeria, Russia and South Korea)
Germany would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed Germany on goal differential. Germany currently is plus 4, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. The second place finisher plays the winner of Group H.
If Germany wins: Germany wins the group.
The U.S. would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed the U.S. on goal differential. The U.S. is plus 1, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. So, if the U.S. loses to Germany, it will be rooting for Portugal, because it’s less likely that Portugal could pass the U.S. on goal differential.
If Germany and the U.S. draw: Germany wins the group and the U.S. finishes second. The result of the other game is meaningless.
If Ghana and Portugal draw: The U.S. and Germany advance. Germany wins the group unless the U.S. defeats them.
Other tiebreakers: In any of these scenarios involving goal differential, if two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals scored. Germany has six goals, the U.S. has four, Ghana has three and Portugal has two.