Thursday, June 17, 2010

Does the US Need to Beat Slovenia?

Everyone is talking about the US game as a must-win game for the Americans. While a loss would just about finish the US, and a win would put the US in very good position, a tie would certainly keep the US in good position to still advance.

Here are the possible scenarios:

Versus Slovenia Versus Algeria Points Advancement?

Decisive outcomes:

L, L: 1 No advancement

T, L: 2 No advancement

W, W: 7 Advancement

W, T: 5 Advancement


Likely not advancing:

L, T: 2 Only way to advance would be for England to tie Algeria and lose to Slovenia. Then Algeria, US and England all tie at 2 points and the US could advance on the tie-breaker.

T, T: 3 Would need England to tie Algeria and either i) England to lose to Slovenia or ii) England to tie Slovenia and the US to win tie-breaker on goals.

L, W: 4 Would need England to either to fail to win both games or England to win one and lose the other and advance on tie-breaker.

All of the above seem highly unlikely and would see the US advance along with Slovenia instead of England. Nobody in the world, except the most neurotic, pessimistic Englishman, would expect England to finish up their final two games with a tie and a loss.


Probably advancing:

T, W: 5 The only way the US would not advance would be if England beats Algeria and ties Slovenia and the US loses the tie-breaker to both England and Slovenia.

W, L: 4 If England wins its final two games, this would be exactly the same outcome as the US had in the 2002 World Cup, backing into advancing. Actually the scenarios where the US fails to advance are pretty numerous, i) Algeria and Slovenia beat England, ii) Algeria beats England, England beats Slovenia and beats US on tie-breaker, iii) Algeria-England tie, England and Slovenia don't tie, Algeria beats US on tie-breaker, iv) Algeria-England tie, Slovenia-England tie, US loses tie-breaker to Algeria and Slovenia, v) England beats Algeria, loses to Slovenia, US loses tie-breaker to England, vi) England beats Algeria, ties Slovenia, US loses tie-breaker to Slovenia. However, the US can still advance in most of these scenarios if they can keep their tie-breaker numbers high (lots of goals, win by a lot).

Therefore the US will be in good position to advance if it:

1) Does not lose to Slovenia

2) Wins one game

So therefore a tie against Slovenia is not the end of the world, though it does put a little more pressure on the last game which the US will have to win.


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