After beating Ghana with an 86th-minute goal out of nowhere, the U.S. now has a real opportunity to get out of the very difficult Group G.
There’s a 67% chance they advance to the knockout stage, according to Five Thirty Eight’s Nate Silver, up from 33% before the game.
When Ghana tied the game at 1-1 in the 82nd minute, many wanted to the U.S. to stay compact and play for a draw. A tie would have let the Americans live another day, the logic went, while a loss would have all but sent them home.
But in reality, that game-winning goal changed everything. The U.S. is now the clear favourite to finish second in the group and advance. With the draw against Ghana, there would have effectively been a three-way tie for which team was expected to make it out of the group.
Using ESPN’s SPI odds for the remaining Group G games, we calculated the expected points that all four teams are predicted to earn in their final two games. The expected points:
- Germany (opponents: Ghana, U.S.) — 4.63 points
- Portugal (opponents: U.S., Ghana) — 2.86 points
- USA (opponents: Portugal, Germany) — 1.86 points
- Ghana (opponents: Germany, Portugal) — 1.67 points
As you can see, Portugal is expected to get more points than the U.S. in the next two games. But the U.S. is still expected to advance:
Things would have been much different if USA-Ghana ended 1-1. The U.S. and Portugal would have had even odds to finish 2nd in the group, and Ghana would be right there as well.
It would have gotten messy for the U.S., and they would have probably needed to overperform in the final two games to advance.
John Brooks’s header wasn’t just dramatic and thrilling, it was vitally important for the U.S. chances of sticking around in Brazil.
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