After a likely three points turned into one for the United States on Monday night with a 1-1 tie against Wales, there are a swath of scenarios that will dictate whether the team has a medium or long-term future in the 2022 World Cup.
England’s resounding victory over Iran has given the Three Lions control of Group B, but things can change quickly. And with everything still to play for, the weird and wonderful world of sports statistics means it is feasible that the USA could miss out on qualification with five points – or make it with just two.
Here we break down all the outcomes and obstacles, as Gregg Berhalter’s tenacious American squad tries to find a way through the minefield. So, get ready to watch the scoreboard — and the all-important goal-differential.
Naturally, whatever combination of results happens Friday, when the USA takes on England hours after Wales meets Iran, will determine what everyone needs to do to advance following game three.
PERMUTATIONS AND SCENARIOS:
If USA beats England and Wales beats Iran: USA would then be guaranteed to advance with a win or a tie against Iran. A defeat against Iran would eliminate the USA, UNLESS Wales loses to England AND finishes behind the Americans on goal differential.
If USA beats England and Wales/Iran tie: USA would be guaranteed to advance with a win or a tie against Iran. If it loses against Iran, it will be guaranteed to go into a two- or three-way tiebreaker, no matter what happens in England-Wales.
If USA beats England and Iran beats Wales: USA would be guaranteed to advance with a win or a tie against Iran. The USA would be eliminated with a loss to Iran, but only IF England beats Wales. If the USA loses to Iran and England-Wales ends in a tie, or Wales wins, the USA goes into a tiebreaker for second place.
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If USA ties with England, and Wales beat Iran: USA would be automatically eliminated if it fails to beat Iran. If it beats Iran and there is a winner in the England-Wales game, the USA would advance in second place. If it beats Iran and England-Wales is a tie, there would be a three-way tiebreaker to decide the group.
If USA ties with England, and Wales/Iran tie: USA would be automatically eliminated with a loss to Iran and would be guaranteed to qualify with a win. If the USA ties with Iran, it would advance if England beats Wales, but be eliminated if Wales beats England. If both USA-Iran and England-Wales are tied, second place will be between USA and Wales, to be decided on via tiebreaker, starting with goal differential.
If USA ties with England and Iran beats Wales: USA would advance with a win over Iran and would be eliminated with any other result.
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If USA loses to England, and Wales beats Iran: USA would be automatically eliminated if it fails to beat Iran. If it beats Iran, it is still eliminated if Wales avoids defeat against England. If it beats Iran and England beats Wales, second place would be determined by the tiebreaker system, starting with goal differential.
If USA loses to England, and Wales/Iran tie: USA would be eliminated with a defeat to Iran. USA would advance with a win against Iran, UNLESS Wales beats England. If the USA ties Iran it could possibly still advance, but only if Wales loses to England, via a three-way tiebreaker for second-place.
If USA loses to England, and Iran beat Wales: USA would be automatically eliminated if it fails to beat Iran. If it beat Iran, it would advance, UNLESS Wales beat England AND finishes with a better goal differential.
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