(by WIBX Intern Ed Manne)
If there's one thing to be learned from this world cup, it's that anything can happen. The victors from four years ago, Spain, are on their way home. England, Switzerland, Australia, and very likely the Italians, Portuguese, and the team from Ghana will be heading home; despite all of these teams being soccer super-teams. The unlikely Costa Ricans seem to be doing exceptionally well, and most importantly (in my eyes anyway) the USA, a nation of basketball, baseball, hockey, and especially football, have been a bit of a shock to the soccer world.
In the group that the US were placed in as extreme underdogs, the standing as of today are;
1. Germany- 1 win 1 draw 0 losses 6 goals for 4 points
2. USA- 1 win 1 draw 0 losses 4 goals for 4 points
3. Ghana- 0 wins 1 draw 1 loss 3 goals for 1 point
4. Portugal- 0 wins 1 draw 1 loss 2 goals for 1 point
The USA plays it's final game against Germany today at noon, at the same time the Portuguese will be playing their last game against Ghana.
The top two teams move on, so as it stands, Germany and the US are in the clear, and the Portuguese and Ghanese will be heading home.
The good news for the US is because of our draw against Portugal, although a win would have meant a definite place in the next round, the draw was as much as we really needed unless there's a serious play on today.
If the US beats Germany, Germany and the US move on. If they tie, the Germans and the Americans will still both move on. If the US loses to Germany, they still probably move on. The other half of that "probably" lands with the points system. a loss means -1 point. Therefore a win for Portugal or Ghana would mean the winner of the Portugal/Ghana team would get 2 points.
This leaves the US with 3 points, and the winner of the Portuguese/Ghana game with 3 points as well. The tie-breaker lands with goals. we have 4 total, Ghana has 3, and Portugal has 2. Therefore it can get confusing with the different possibilities.
For instance, if at the 90th minute of play, the US loses to Germany 3-2, the US will have 6 goals and 3 points.
In order for Portugal to knock the US out, they'd need to beat Ghana by scoring at least four goals (unlikely). In order for Ghana to kick us out, they'd need to beat Portugal with 3 goals (slightly likely).
The worry for the US then, is to be beat by Germany, and to not score any goals against Germany, making it easier for the victor of the Portugal-Ghana game to score the goals necessary to beat us in goals, since they'd tie with us in points.
Therefor the GER-USA game is THE world-cup match to watch. Everything hangs in the balance. If the US beats or tie the Germans, we will be going farther in the world cup than some of the best soccer teams in Europe! Even if they lose, providing we put up a good fight, and the Portuguese/Ghana winner doesn't score multiple goals, we will even then still move on. Personally, I'd rather it not come down to a goal differential, but be determined by straight-up points (as i'm sure all of America would agree)
The next thing, then, is what are our chances against the Germans? The Germans flat out embarrassed Portugal (4-0), who we tied with. On the other hand they only tied with Ghana (2-2), who the US beat! It's simply too close to call. It could go any way at all, and because of that it promises to be a very good game. The game starts at 12:00PM Thursday, with Team USA's World Cup Aspirations in the balance.