Simply Put: How the USA Can Advance to the Knockout Round

Now that the second of three games are complete in Group C, we know the scenarios that can result from the games played on Wednesday the 23rd.

Current Standings

Team

GP

Wins

Ties

Losses

Points

Goals For

Goals Against

Slovenia

2

1

1

0

4

3

2

USA

2

0

2

0

2

3

3

England

2

0

2

0

2

1

1

Algeria

3

0

1

1

1

0

1

 

On Wednesday, England plays Slovenia and the USA plays Algeria. Here’s how things net out with the possible results of each game.

 

Slovenia Wins

Slovenia – England Tie

England Wins

USA Wins

USA (5) and Slovenia (7) advance

USA (5) and Slovenia (5) advance

(placement on tiebreakers)

USA (5) and England (5) advance

(placement on tiebreakers)

USA-Algeria Tie

USA (3) and Slovenia (7) advance

Slovenia (5) advances

England (3) & USA (3) go to tiebreakers

England (5) and Slovenia (4) advance

Algeria Wins

Algeria (4) and Slovenia (7) advance

Slovenia (5) and Algeria (4) advance

England (5) advances

Slovenia (4) and Algeria (4) go to tiebreakers

 

When teams are tied on points, tiebreakers are applied in the following priority:

  1. Goal difference in all group matches;
  1. Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

     

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows:

3. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
4. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
5. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
6. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.

 

We are most concerned with the scenario of a tie in both matches, when England and USA will tie with three points for that is the tiebreaker that will determine who advances:

  • The teams will be tied on goal differential by definition, as they both will have tied all games and have a 0 goal differential. Thus the first tiebreaker is a wash.
  • Going into the third match, the USA has a +2 advantage on goals scored for the second tiebreaker. Scenarios are:
    • USA advances if:
      • They score more goals in their tie than does England.
      • They score the same goals in their tie as does England.
      • They score one less goal in their tie than does England.
    • England advances if they score three or more goals more than the USA in their tie.
    • If England scores two more goals exactly than the USA in their tie, the teams are then tied in the tiebreaker.

As I look at the tiebreakers — in the event that both matches end in a tie and England outscores the USA by two goals exactly, it will come down to drawing lots, because the USA and England have already played to a tie. Wow.

Best scenarios for USA fans:

  1. USA wins big and Slovenia and England tie 0-0.
    USA advances in first place in group C.
  2. USA wins big and England squeaks a win out.
    USA advances in first place in group C.
  3. Slovenia wins and USA wins or ties.
    USA advances in second place in group C.
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