US soccer fans: Here's what to cheer for - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

US soccer fans: Here's what to cheer for

The US is in position to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup, but things have to fall just right. (Source: MGN) The US is in position to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup, but things have to fall just right. (Source: MGN)
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(RNN) - For the millions of freshly minted American soccer fans who have jumped on the bandwagon now that the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) is good, here's a primer on what happens in every contingency of Thursday's noon ET clash with Germany.

Go ‘Merica!

USA loses, Ghana wins: If the U.S. loses and Ghana beats Portugal by more than one goal, we're done. If we lose by one and Ghana wins by one, it goes to goals scored in all matches. So far, the U.S. has scored four goals, Ghana, three. If we lose to Germany 1-0 and Ghana beats Portugal 1-0, we'd still advance because we beat them head-to-head. But if we lose 1-0 and Ghana wins 2-1, Ghana advances by goals scored.

USA loses, Portugal wins: Portugal is a long shot because of their anemic offense - it has a minus-4 goal differential. It needs a five-goal swing, which means it needs to beat Ghana by a bunch and hope Germany can wallop the US by a similar score. The USA needs to tie or beat Germany to advance, and Germany can advance with a win or a draw, so it doesn't have a big incentive to run up the score on the USA. But if the U.S. were to lose 4-0 and Portugal were to win 2-1, then the two teams would draw lots. In short, Portugal needs a miracle – but they are good at miracles - as we know from that insane equalizer with 28 seconds left in Sunday's 2-2 draw with the U.S.

A win over the mighty German team that has been called "The Machine" would send the USA into the 16-team knockout round as the No. 1 team in Group H. A tie would propel us forward as the No. 2 team.

We're also in position to learn why boring, low-scoring soccer sends savvy fans into a frenzy – because that's what we need to advance in case of a loss. So it's cool to cheer for missed goals in the Portugal-Ghana game, which takes place at the exact same time as our match with Germany so that the outcome of one game won't affect the other teams' performance in the other.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if we do advance, it'll be against one of the Top 2 teams from Group H, which includes Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea.

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