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Dirty Tackle

World Cup math: The scenarios the U.S. could face on Thursday

Dirty Tackle

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Win and advance. This seems to be Jurgen Klinsmann's main goal and it should be, given the U.S. will need a victory in order to not only secure a spot in the next round, but also avoid the arguably stronger team that will emerge from Group H as the winner. The odds say this will probably be Belgium, while Algeria, Russia or South Korea are all still in the race for the potential second seed.

Meanwhile, a draw will ensure the U.S. advances as the group's runner-up, no matter what Ghana and Portugal end up doing.

The Americans also advance if Portugal and Ghana play any sort of tie, since there is no way for either side to catch up with the U.S. in points (or the Germans) under this circumstance. However, if the Americans lose, things could become very iffy.

To simplify things a bit: If the U.S. loses by one goal and by the EXACT same result as Ghana beats Portugal, the U.S. is through, due to the direct comparison with Ghana. (They beat them in game one of the group stage 2-1).

If the U.S. loses by one goal to Germany and Ghana beats Portugal by the same margin, the U.S. only advances if they score at least as many goals in their loss as the Ghanaians score in their victory.

If the U.S. loses by one goal to Germany and Ghana wins against Portugal by a margin of two or more, the U.S. will go home.

If the U.S. loses by two or more goals and Ghana wins (no matter by how much), the U.S. faces elimination.

In the unlikely (but not impossible) scenario that Portugal beats Ghana by five or more goals, the U.S. would be eliminated with any kind of loss.

If Germany beats the U.S. by five or more goals, only a draw between Portugal and Ghana can save the U.S.

If the United States loses by a margin of three goals or less and Portugal beats Ghana by the margin of one goal precisely, the U.S. still advances.

If Portugal beats Ghana by exactly one goal, the U.S. still advances as long as they lose by no more than three goals.

If Portugal beats Ghana exactly 1-0, the U.S. can lose by as much as four goals to Germany and still advance.

If Portugal beats Ghana by a margin of two goals precisely and the U.S. loses by more than three goals, the Americans will be knocked out of the tournament.

It gets interesting if Portugal beats Ghana by two goals exactly while the U.S. falls to Germany by precisely three goals:

1) If Portugal wins against Ghana by two goals, the U.S. and Portugal will face a drawing of lots if the U.S. scores as many goals in their loss as Portugal concedes in their victory.

For example:

If Portugal prevails over Ghana 2-0 and the U.S. loses 3-0 to Germany or Portugal beats Ghana 3-1 and Germany beats the U.S. 4-1, the U.S. and Portugal would be tied in points, goals differential and goals scored. Since both sides played a 2-2 draw against each other, FIFA would draw lots in this instance to determine who advances.

2) If Portugal beats Ghana by two goals and the U.S. loses by a margin of three goals but the U.S. scores more goals in their loss against Germany than Portugal concedes in their win over Ghana, the U.S. still advances.

3) If Portugal beats Ghana by two goals and the U.S. loses by a margin of three goals to the Germans, but the Portuguese concede more goals than the U.S. scores in their defeat, Portugal will advance.

Find a complete breakdown of the scenarios described below:

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(Info courtesy of <a href=https://twitter.com/KellerAndy/statuses/480886761401647105>chart by Andy Keller</a>)
If Portugal beats Ghana by three goals, the United States is best advised to lose by no more than one goal against Germany. However, if the Americans manage to score one or more goals and lose by a margin of two while Portugal beats Ghana by three, it comes down to the total goals scored between Portugal and the Americans. In this case several lots-drawing scenarios are also possible, the most likely ones being a German 3-1 victory over the U.S. while the Portuguese oust Ghana 3-0 or a German 4-2 win over the Americans, while Portugal routs Ghana 4-1.

If Portugal beats Ghana by a margin of four goals, the Americans need to score at least two goals more in their loss than Portugal concedes in their win AND the U.S. cannot lose by more than one goal to the Germans. Even then, the U.S. would only have a 50 percent chance of advancing, as lots would be drawn.

If any other scenario occurs... well that would just be obscene. (H/T to Andy Kelly for chart info.)

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