Soccer fans old and new are donning their red, white and blue and skipping out of work for a lunch-time match of epic Group of Death proportions. Not only is the USA facing a rival of sorts in Germany, the 2nd-ranked team in the entire world and our coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s old squad, they’re fighting for their chance to move on to the next round of 16.

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Right now the US has 4 points (3 points for a win against Ghana and 1 point for a tie against Portugal) and so do Germany (3 points for a win against Portugal and 1 point for a tie against Ghana) – while Ghana and Portugal both only have 1 point (both teams have lost one and tied one.) That means the US and Germany could both advance, depending on what happens today.

So, are the group tournament rules giving you a math headache? Not sure what exactly needs to happen when the US faces Germany in Recife? Here’s a simple way to understand how the US could move on to the round of 16.

(Warren Little/Getty Images)

(Warren Little/Getty Images)


If the US wins today it’ll boost them 3 more points, giving them a total of 7 points. No matter what happens in the Portugal/Ghana game we will be on top of the table and win the hardest group in the tournament. Boom. Winners of Group G go on to face the squad that ranks 2nd in Group H, which more than likely will be Algeria.




If the US and Germany tie, both teams will get 1 more point which will put us both squarely at 5 points each. No matter what happens in the Portugal/Ghana game, both the US and Germany will advance to the round of 16. When two teams tie, you then have to look at their total goal differential (number of goals scored – number of goals against = goal differential) so far in the tournament. Germany is ahead of the US in goal differential – so they would top the table and face 2nd place from Group H (probably Algeria) and the US would face 1st place from Group H (probably Belgium.)




Well, that’s not what we wanted. But, if the US loses to Germany in rainy Recife today they still have a chance to move on – but it depends on what happens during the Portugal/Ghana game (which is played at the same time.)

  • If Portugal and Ghana tie, they will each have 2 points and the US will have 4 – we’ll move on and be second overall in the group.
  • If Portugal wins, they’ll be tied for second with the US with 4 points and we’ll have to look at goal differential. Right now Portugal sits in a pretty big -4 hole while the US has +1 so they’ll need to kill it against Ghana and we’ll need to get our butts handed to us by Germany.
  • If Ghana wins, they’ll be tied for second with the US with 4 points and we’ll have to look at goal differential – but this scenario is not as great for the US. Ghana sits at -1 and we’re at +1 so there’s a good chance if we lose and they win, the goal differential will be made up.

So, while you’re waving your USA scarf and chanting along to “I believe that we will win” today – here’s what you’re hoping for. Either the US wins, ties, loses but Portugal Ghana tie, or loses and Portugal win.

Even easier – root for the USA and Portugal today. #IBELIEVE.


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