We can deal with Germany. We've done it before.
Sitting here in my Airbnb.com studio apartment, using Sao Paulo as a kind of weigh station; I don't have tickets for USA-Germany, but I do have tickets for the next round, IF the US makes it. So here I wait. It is now almost 5am. Sleep doesn't come.
Neither does any particular blog post idea. So how about some links to get us all in the mood.
- Let's start at the beginning. What does the US need today to advance?
They definitely get through with a win, and would also win the group in that case.
They would finish second in the group- which is all they need- if they draw with Germany.
If they lose, and Ghana-Portugal is a draw, US still finishes second.
If they lose and Portugal wins, there are very few scenarios in which Portugal could pass the US, but they all involve Portugal and/or Germany winning by a LOT of goals, to wipe out the edge the US has over Portugal in goal difference, which is the first tie-breaker.
If they lose and Ghana wins... things get hairy.
Here's a handy and reliable-looking chart a dude on Twitter made:
That's right: coin toss is an actual option.
- That Nate Silver's a smart guy, right? Well, his website FiveThirtyEight.com gives the US a 76% chance of advancing, despite a 64% chance of losing the match itself.
While this news is comforting in its way, a scenario in which Ghana wins while Germany wins- I mean, LOOK AT ALL THE RED ON THAT CHART- renders that percentage meaningless to me. Job has to get done.
- I can't pretend to have anything intelligent to say about tactics, but The Shin Guardian can, and his tactical preview is recommended.
- US Soccer has been throwing these great #FanHQ parties the night before and the afternoon of each match. My girlfriend and I went to the one in Natal and the Manaus. They were both fun. But nothing anywhere near as cool as what happened last night in Recife.
- Did you hear the Ghana controversy? They haven't been paid yet. They're pissed. Allegedly the president of Ghana- not of their football association, the president of the ACTUAL NATION OF GHANA- has assured the players that their three million dollars in cash is already on a plane to Brazil. It has come to this. Will this affect the mood of the team on game day? I deeply, deeply doubt it. But it's a pretty interesting story.
- The US has played Germany in two previous World Cups.
At France 98, the first opponent for the US was the Germans, who won 2-0. As you may have heard, the second goal for Germany was scored by that dashing striker Jurgen Klinsmann (he assisted on the first goal, too).
At Japan/South Korea 2002, the best performance the US has had in the modern era, the teams met in the quarterfinals. Germany was not such a strong team that year, and they were there for the taking. But the US ran out of gas, and was denied a penalty on an obvious handball in the box, and Germany won 1-0 (long version or short version).
- I'm worried the players will be gassed after the Manaus experience, not to mention the fact that Germany has an extra day if rest on them. But the other four teams who played in Manaus didn't fare well in the first game afterward. Cameroon lost to Brazil 4-1; Croatia lost to Mexico 3-1; England lost to Uruguay 2-1; and Italy was shocked by Costa Rica 1-0.
It's a small sample size. But it's four losses and zero wins. Three goals scored, 10 goals conceded. And none of these teams scored more than once.
- Finally, if you're reading this before going to work: DON'T GO TO WORK!
Gonna try to sleep, now. Fingers crossed for our boys.
- Brendan Hunt