What the Germany-Ghana tie means for U.S. hopes in the World Cup

Saturday’s hold-your-breath tie between Germany and Ghana revealed a lot about Group G, answering some questions but posing others still.

Did the U.S. really beat a Ghana team that talented? And is Portugal even worse than the 4-0 tally against Germany suggested?

But most importantly, what does this all say about the future for the U.S. team?

In short, a tie was probably the best possible result for the Americans. If the United States manages to beat Portugal on Sunday in Manaus, it would ensure at least a second-place finish in Group G and a spot in the round of 16.

Sure, a Ghana win could’ve put the United States in better position to win the group outright, but it also would’ve muddled the top of the standings and endangered the United States’ chances of even advancing out of group play.

Instead Germany will enter its final match of group play against the U.S. with four points. Depending on Sunday’s result, the American squad will enter that match with either three, four or six points.

If the U.S. manages only a tie Sunday, it will still be in excellent position to advance and still have a shot to win the group. If the U.S. squad ties each of its next two matches, it will advance. If it wins Sunday and manages a tie against Germany, the Americans will win the group.

What’s the difference between first- and second-place in Group G?

The group winner will face South Korea (No. 57 in the latest FIFA rankings), Russia (No. 19) or perhaps Algeria (No. 22) in the group of 16 on June 30 in Porto Alegre.

The second-place team in Group G could very well meet 11th-ranked Belgium on July 1 in Salvador. If that squad somehow gets past Belgium, a possible meeting with fifth-ranked Argentina could be waiting in the quarterfinals.

That means there’s plenty at stake when the U.S. faces Germany on Thursday, but the Americans could make the path a lot simpler if they can pick up three points on Sunday, eliminating Portugal in the process.

More from the World Cup:

Follow all of Saturday’s action on the World Cup live blog

Germany and Ghana finish in draw after thrilling second half

Messi scores late and Argentina escapes Iran to advance

In Iran, loss is still cause for celebration

U.S.’s mission vs. Portugal: Contain Ronaldo

Messi vs. Ronaldo: A World Cup tale of the tape

Iran, short on funds and facing long odds, preps for Argentina

John Brooks of U.S. rises from obscurity with winning goal vs. Ghana

Isolated Amazon city of Manaus celebrates its World Cup spotlight

Scores and schedule | Group standings | Stats leaders

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