Wednesday, June 18, 2014

USMNT Group G Scenarios And Odds

I'm a data guy, so I love Nate Silver. And over at FiveThirtyEight, Silver has a awesome breakdown of the US team's chances to advance past Group G, now that we've beaten Ghana 2-1 in our opening World Cup game:

The United States may or may not have played the better football in Monday’s match against Ghana. But it came away with three huge points. That, coupled with Germany’s 4-0 thrashing of Portugal, makes the U.S. slight favorites to advance to the knockout stage. FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup predictions now give the United States a 63 percent chance of advancing, up from 33 percent on Monday morning.

This forecast is based on simulating the rest of the group stage 10,000 times, using estimates of team strength from ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (see here for a lot more methodological detail). It helps to have a computer to do this work when there are so many permutations to consider.

There are nine remaining scenarios involving the Americans’ results, among them possibly beating, losing to or drawing with Portugal, and then the same possibilities against Germany. Some of these are relatively easy to resolve, but others are more complex and depend on the outcomes of the other remaining matches in Group G — Germany against Ghana and Portugal against Ghana — and possibly FIFA’s tie-breaking procedures.

FIFA’s first tiebreaker is based on goal differential. That greatly advantages Germany, with its +4 so far, and greatly harms Portugal, with its -4. The next tiebreaker is based on goals scored (for that reason, it was slightly better for the U.S. to beat Ghana 2-1 than by the 1-0 scoreline that held for most of the game). Finally, head-to-head results are considered — so if it comes down to the U.S. and Ghana and they’re tied on both goals scored and allowed, the U.S. would go in ahead.

Here’s the Americans’ outlook, in brief:

  • Win twice, advance to the knockout stage.
  • Win once and draw once, advance.
  • Draw twice, advance.
  • Win once and lose once, almost certainly advance (there’s one highly unlikely mathematical exception).
  • Lose twice, and almost certainly go out (there’s one highly unlikely mathematical exception).
  • Draw once and lose once, and it gets complicated. It’s considerably better for the U.S. to draw against Portugal and lose to Germany than the other way around.

Click on through the above link, for the long version. The US next plays vs Portugal on June 22 (5a PT). Can't wait to see how these odds materialize!


Dusty Baker said...

Can't wait to see US hopes dashed on Sunday.