USA vs. Germany: What The U.S. Needs To Advance to World Cup Round of 16

By Ty Duffy

Silvestre Varela’s 95th minute goal cost the United States a win, which would have advanced them to the knockout rounds. While still earning the result they needed against Portugal, the failure at the end could prove costly for the Yanks. Here are the possible scenarios that would see the U.S. advance.

If The U.S. Earns a Result Against Germany

USA Beats Germany… The U.S. wins Group G and advances to the Round of 16. The likely opponent would be Algeria, Russia or South Korea.

USA Draws With Germany… Both the U.S. and Germany advance with five points. Germany wins the group on goal difference. The likely U.S. Round of 16 opponent would be Group H winner Belgium. Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low were former colleagues. Cue the conspiracy theories.

If The U.S. Does Not Earn a Result Against Germany

USA Loses to Germany and Ghana/Portugal Draw… The U.S. advances in second place to the Round of 16.

USA Loses to Germany and Ghana Wins… USA and Ghana would finish level for second place on four points. The Americans need a one goal loss and a one-goal Ghana win. That puts them level on goal difference. The U.S. then need an equal (tiebreaker from the 2-1 win) or greater number of goals scored for the group round. USA currently has a (+1) goals scored advantage. So Ghana cannot score more than one goal more than the U.S.

For example: a 1-0 USA loss plus a 1-0 Ghana win leaves them level on points (4), goal difference (0), and goals scored (4). The U.S. goes through on head to head. Ditto for a 2-1 USA loss and a 2-1 Ghana win or a 3-2 loss and a 3-2 Ghana win.Etc. But a 1-0 USA loss plus a 2-1 Ghana victory would give Ghana an advantage on goals scored, sending them through instead.

USA Loses to Germany and Portugal Wins… USA and Portugal would finish level for second place on four points. The U.S. currently holds a (+5) goal difference advantage over Portugal. Any pair of results that maintains the U.S. advantage on goal difference sends the Americans through to the Round of 16.

For example: a 2-1 USA loss plus a 3-0 Portugal win would leave the U.S. (+1) ahead on goal difference and send the Americans through. A 3-1 USA loss and a 4-0 Portugal win would put Portugal (+1) and see them advance in the Americans’ stead.

A 3-0 Germany win over USA plus a 2-0 Portugal win (or 3-1 and 3-0 respectively) would leave Portugal and USA level on points, goals scored, goal difference and head-to-head result. They would draw lots for the Round of 16 place. And you thought the game itself was tense…


The U.S. controls its own outcome with a win or draw against Germany. Root for that. If that looks improbable, things get complicated. Root for a Ghana/Portugal draw or a narrow Portugal win. Getting smoked by Germany, as Portugal did in the first match, could be devastating. Though, Portugal dealing with similar fatigue issues against Ghana could be equally devastating.

Klinsmann’s team remains in a solid position. Though it could (and perhaps should) have been in a better one.