Monday, June 23, 2014

Don't Fret Over Portugal Draw; USMNT's Chances Still Improved

Wow, what a brutal conclusion to a game that almost had the US advancing to the knockout round; instead, we face Germany in the final group game with tons of scenarios to play out. But Nate Silver over at says we're still in very good shape to move on:

The United States was seconds away from defeating Portugal on Sunday when Michael Bradley, normally one of the steadiest American players, mishandled a ball in midfield and gave Portugal a last opportunity. Silvestre Varela took advantage, scoring on a header.

But the 2-2 draw was a result the U.S. might have been happy with before the match began. It improved the Americans’ odds of advancing to the knockout round of the World Cup. Those chances are up to 76 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast, an improvement from 65 percent before Sunday’s match.

That 76 percent figure may even be slightly low, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. Still, the U.S. will not be guaranteed advancement unless it manages at least a draw against Germany on Thursday in Recife, Brazil. If the U.S. loses, the Portugal-Ghana game, which will kick off simultaneously in Brasilia, could cause heartbreak for Americans. You may want to have two screens at your disposal for Thursday’s matches.

The U.S. has essentially three ways to advance to the knockout stage:

  • The easy way. First, it could draw or beat Germany. That might not sound so challenging, but the Germans are the third-best team in the world, according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index. Our forecast gives the U.S. a 14 percent chance of a win and a 22 percent chance of a draw — but a 64 percent chance of a loss. As a bonus, however, the U.S. will advance first from Group G if it beats Germany. That matters because the first-place team from Group G is likely to face Russia or Algeria in the Round of 16 — while the second-place team will face a stronger side in Belgium.
  • The almost-as-easy way. Next, the United States could lose to Germany but advance if Ghana and Portugal draw in Brasilia. Our forecast puts the chance of a Ghana-Portugal draw at 29 percent.
  • The hard way. Finally, the U.S. could lose to Germany but advance because it edges either Portugal or Ghana — whichever team wins in Brasilia — on goal differential or another of FIFA’s tiebreakers.

Let's hope it's the easy way!


Fred's Brim said...

Feels like we gotta root for the POR-GHA draw

Hideo Nomo said...

US losing by a goal, and POR winning by less than 4 goals seems like the most likely US advancement scenario.

Hideo Nomo said...

Or fewer than 4 goals even.

Nostradamus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nostradamus said...

I prognosticate Germany 3-1 US, Portugal 2-1 Ghana, but then I botched that one Crimean War prophecy back in the day, too. Call it a crapshoot.

Hideo Nomo said...


Dusty Baker said...