(CBS SF) – To become one of two teams to advance from World Cup 2014’s “Group of Death” the United States squad is going to need a little luck, and they may have just received it in the form of a 4-0 drubbing of the number four ranked team in the world by Germany.
In order to move on in the World Cup, your team must finish in the top two of the four teams in its “group.” Each team gets three points for a win and one for a tie. Germany looked so strong in its first match that it seems unlikely that they will fail to advance; meaning Portugal (0-1), Ghana and the U.S. will be competing for one spot. Tie-breakers in World Cup pool play are determined by goal differential, meaning if you finish with the same number of points (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw) then you had better not have lost badly in your other games – Portugal just did that.
So how does this help the U.S.?
If the U.S. men lose Monday afternoon, Portugal’s loss doesn’t really matter. Team USA becomes a real longshot to advance. But if they win Monday, the path becomes a little easier; they could potentially draw with Portugal and even lose to Germany and still advance with four points. The U.S. would have to hope that Ghana doesn’t upset both of the superpowers in this so-called “Group of Death,” or that Portugal can’t blow out Ghana by enough to make up for the crushing defeat to Germany.
Alternatively, the U.S. could tie Monday and then beat Portugal – a task that got easier when Pepe (perhaps Portugal’s best defender) earned a red card in Monday’s game, meaning he can’t play against the U.S. Sunday. That, too, could be enough to get the red, white and blue into the round of 16.
Either way, it has now become easier to advance without having to upset superpower Germany.