The United States national team is off to a good start in the 2014 World Cup. First it bested Ghana in the team's first match in Brazil, and it nearly beat Portugal Sunday evening, breaking hearts in the final moments as a 2-1 lead turned into a draw with a goal by Portugal in the final moments. A win would've ensured that Team USA advanced to the next round.
Still, the chances of the USA squad moving on to the knockout round in Brazil are pretty high, according to the statistical prediction wizards at fivethirtyeight.com, who upgraded the team's chances from 65 percent to 76 percent after the Portugal match ended.
Still, that leaves a lot of room for scenarios that would send Team USA home after its much-anticipated Thursday match against Germany, one of the best teams in the tournament.
The result of that game, combined with the score of the Portugal-Ghana match that will kick off at the exact same time (American fans may want to head to the bar or have two TV screens to watch that day, as CNN pointed out Monday), will determine whether or not America advances.
Here's how it works. If USA wins or draws against Germany on Thursday, it automatically advances to the next round. But fivethirtyeight.com gives the Yanks just a 14 percent chance of winning that game and a 22 percent chance of drawing. Not the best odds, but not unexpected, given that ESPN currently has Germany ranked as the third-best team in the world after Brazil and Argentina.
If the United States team loses on Thursday, things become more complicated. If the Ghana-Portugal match results in a draw, the Americans advance anyway.
The calculations get trickier if Team USA loses to Germany and either Ghana or Portugal win. There are many possible scenarios under FIFA's goal differential and tie-breaking rules, so we'll leave it to the soccer experts to explain them via the super-detailed chart below: