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June 14, 2006

America's chances to advance

Stop laughing...no team can be eliminated after one match (mathematically, at least). So, can the US still advance? Of course, it is possible.

I am sure you have already heard the statistic that only one team in the last two world cups has advanced to the round of 16 after losing their first two matches (Turkey in 2002). That indicates how tough it will be.

Coach Arena said before the match that a first match loss means you need at least four points from the last two matches. With the loss to the Czech Republic being the most lopsided score in the tournament to date, they probably need to win both matches since being level on points is unlikely to be enough.

Two wins could still do it. The US is three points behind Italy and the Czechs, but they cannot exert any influence over the latter as they have already played. But a US win against Italy both levels the points between them and narrows the goal differential.

Following that up with a win against Ghana means Italy would have to win its later match against the Czech Republic to keep the US out. Even then, goal differential could be an issue.

So, it is possible. But is it probable?

The US has never won a world cup match in Europe. They have been roughed up in their first match and doubts remain on whether they are a competitive side for European teams.

They are taking one of the weakest attacking sides in the World Cup to play Italy, known for a national style of play that is firmly centered on not conceding goals (insert your own "f***ing boring football" comment here). With Italy five points ahead on goal differential ( 2 v -3), a US victory by one goal, amazing as that would be, may not be enough.

Assuming an improbable one-goal win, even then a draw with Ghana is only sufficient if Italy loses to the Czech Republic in its final match. There are other ways the US could advance...the Czech Republic could loss its next two matchs while the US wins its next two. The Czechs could beat Italy as badly as they did the US. The Czechs could beat Ghana and lose to Italy...etc

But the likely scenario would have to be two US victories. I would love to see that and I am hoping it happens. But I am not putting money on it. If they beat Italy next week, we can revisit the issue.

Posted by Kirk on June 14, 2006 02:24 PM


The US draw with italy - you have too much time on your hans to fantisize. . . . one of the two top teams to have played well in the first round (Spain) and you think they might draw with the US. . .you are crazy

Posted by: Howie at June 15, 2006 09:52 AM