Germany and Ghana played to an exciting 2-2 draw in Group G. The result also happened to be the best possible outcome for the U.S. national team.
With the draw, the United States can now clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win over Portugal on Sunday.
This would have also been true had Germany defeated Ghana. However, the tie was even better.
Now, if the U.S. National team can beat Portugal on Sunday, they will be in a position where they can win their group with just a tie against Germany in their final match of the group stage. In addition, under this scenario, Germany would only need a tie to qualify for the round of 16.
Here is what the standings would look like if the U.S. beats Portugal by a hypothetical score of 2-1.
Winning the group would be huge as the runner-up from Group G will face the winner from Group H. That will almost certainly be Belgium, the ninth-best team in the world according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI).
However, if the U.S. can win Group G, they would likely face either Russia (#23 in the SPI) or South Korea (#35 in the SPI) in the round of 16. That is a much more favourable match-up and a better shot at reaching the quarterfinals.
Of course, the U.S. still needs to beat Portugal on Sunday. Nate Silver’s model calls the game a toss-up, with the U.S. being given a 35% chance of winning and a 36% chance of losing.
If the goal is just be make it to the knockout stage and be one of the final 16, a German win would have been slightly better. But if the goal is to actually make some noise on the world stage, this draw was a big step in that direction.
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