Well, that happened. For those of you still seething over the United States’ disallowed goal against Slovenia (I’m looking at you, ESPN producers, as you force it into every program still, two days later), realize this: first, the free kick in question was set up on an Italian-level flop by Jozy Altidore; these things tend to even out. Second, if the U.S. defense hadn’t lapsed TWICE against a less-talented side in the first half, they wouldn’t have needed that goal to win. Third, the Yanks are in fantastic shape following their draw with Slovenia, thanks, in particular, to our old friends from England making a mockery of their talents with a 1-1 loss to Algeria. And that’s what we’ll focus on today.
At this point, the only thing we know about Group C is that Algeria can’t win the group. However, Algeria can still advance, and the other three teams, England, U.S. and Slovenia, can all win the group still. But, as this is Amurika, and as we really only care about our own well being, let’s take a look at the possible scenarios for our skin-headed heroes as they prepare for their final group match against their curiously-headed opponents, Algeria, on Wednesday.
The Worst-Case Scenario: This one is rather straight-forward. If Donovan and company fall at the feet of the world’s 30th-best team, then not only won’t they advance, but they don’t deserve to advance. Algeria is the worst team in the group and shouldn’t be able to hang with an American side playing capably. In the slightly modified words of Aziz Ansari; “Losing to the 30th-ranked team in the world with your World Cup on the line? That’s like losing to the 30th-ranked team in the world with your World Cup on the line!”
The Maddening Scenario: As Algeria demonstrated Friday against England, they’re capable of hanging with a better team that plays with the teeth of a guppy. If the U.S. play like their big brothers across the pond Wednesday and tie Algeria, they can fail to advance if England can beat Slovenia, or if England and Slovenia have a high-scoring tie and England end up with more total goals than the U.S. If this plays out, expect Koman Coulibaly to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth. And then murdered by an American bookie.
The Always Expected Scenario: For the Yanks, it’s straightforward enough for even the most xenophobic Americans to understand: win and advance. There are a few scenarios, however, in which the Americans could win their match against Algeria and finish second in the group. First, if Slovenia can find a way to get a win versus England–which doesn’t seem that cool anymore given England’s play–they will win the group outright. If England and Slovenia tie, and Slovenia have an equal goal differential with more total goals, they still win the group. And finally, if England beats Slovenia and finish with a better goal differential/more total goals, those smarmy bastards will snake their way into the group’s top seed, at which point we can all feel free to drink room-temperature beer and vomit.
The Suck-It England Scenario: If you had told me at about 9:45 a.m. CT on Friday that the U.S. would be headed into the Algeria match with a great chance to win the group, your sanity would’ve been questioned after I had punched you for talking to me while the U.S. was apparently tanking. But this is the wacky world we live in! So it comes down to this: there are two ways for the United States to win Group C, both of which would take the requisite win over Algeria. First, if England and Slovenia tie, the U.S. would win the group with better goal differential/total goals than Slovenia, which would be a double win for the U.S.: winning Group C AND doing so with England going back to the United Kingdom of England-Great Britain. They could also win the group with an England win over Slovenia and a higher goal differential/total goals than the Brits. In which case the English can drink a Budweiser and pout over it’s utter lack of sophistication.
Thumbnail image courtesy of usaplayers.com