The United States men’s national team’s opening game against Ghana is its best chance to get a win in Group G.
The odds to get out of the group are stacked against the Americans. The most realistic paths to getting into the Round of 16 all start with a win against Ghana.
Or, to phrase it another way, if the US doesn’t win tonight, they’re in very deep trouble.
A win against Ghana will give the U.S. three points and a massive boost of momentum heading into their game against Portugal, who looked completely out of synch in their 4-0 loss to Germany.
By beating Ghana, the U.S. can still get out of the group without beating Germany or Portugal.
This is a huge deal.
If the U.S. can muster a tie with Portugal, they will be in excellent shape heading into their final match against Germany. So long as they can keep it close against Germany, and Portugal doesn’t blow Ghana out of the water, the U.S. would likely advance on goal differential with 4 points. This follows the “best case scenario” that has been well-publicised since the groups were announced in December.
A tie with Ghana isn’t the end of the world for the Americans — one point is mathematically better than zero points. However, a tie with Ghana makes the challenge significantly more difficult because they’d realistically need to beat either Portugal or Germany to get out of the group. They’d have to take more points from Germany and Portugal than Ghana does.
A tie means that the U.S. needs to pull a massive upset, and get help from the other teams in their group. It’s not a death warrant, but it makes their job harder.
A loss to Ghana effectively means the U.S. will need to at least beat Portugal and tie Germany (or visa versa), and hope Ghana falls apart in their next two games. If the US could pull this off, it would arguably be the most impressive feat in the team’s history, second only to their quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup.
With the odds of getting a win or a draw against Germany slim, a loss to Ghana would be devastating.
Statistically speaking, there are multiple other scenarios in which the US can advance out of the group following a tie or a loss to Ghana, but they’re all highly improbable. To make their lives easier, the US desperately needs a “W” tonight.
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