The United States men’s soccer team greatly improved their chances of advancing past group play, with a 2-1 victory over Ghana on Monday night.
Team USA was not favored to make it out of Group G before the start of the 2014 World Cup. It’s been dubbed the “Group of Death,” as it includes Germany and Portugal, two of the better teams in the tournament. Ghana rounds out the group, and even though they haven’t been given much of a chance to reach the Round of 16, the nation has historically given the United States trouble. The U.S. was eliminated by Ghana in the 2010 World Cup in the Round of 16, and lost to Ghana in 2006 group play.
Now, the U.S. is one of the favorites to qualify from their group. Sportsbook.ag has given Team USA -130 betting odds to be one of the final 16 teams in the tournament.
The Yanks are set to face Portugal on June 22 and Germany on June 26. A victory in both games would make the U.S. the winners of Group G. That isn’t likely to happen, considering they’ve been given +7000 odds to do so. However, the U.S. can advance without winning another match.
It would be a major upset if the U.S. were to beat Germany, but they can still make it out of Group G with a loss. A draw with Portugal and a loss to Germany likely has them advancing to the next round. Portugal’s 4-0 loss to Germany in their opener has given them +110 odds to qualify from Group G.
Becoming one of the final 16 teams would be a major achievement for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad. They were given virtually no chance of winning it all, heading into the tournament, and that wouldn’t likely change with a trip to the round of 16.
After their opening victory, the Yanks' odds to win the 2014 World Cup improved from +10000 to +8000. They still trail 13 teams, including Portugal, who has a loss in their group.
While the victory has caused many to be optimistic about the USA's chances, Klinsmann has stated on multiple occasions that his players can’t win the tournament.
“For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic,” Klinsmann said, just days before the U.S. defeated Ghana.
"Every game is the next step to a bigger goal. We are not shying away from anybody, but first we've got to make it through the group. So let's stay with our feet on the ground and say 'Let's get that group first done.' Then the sky is the limit.”
The U.S. may still have trouble advancing through the group. Their contest with Portugal on Sunday will play a large role in determining their World Cup future. Early betting odds have Portugal as a -170 favorite. Teams USA’s odds for the match are listed at +400.