World Cup scenarios for USMNT in the last game of the group stage vs. Iran

The group stage of the World Cup is almost over. Starting Tuesday, the teams will begin playing their final games in an effort to see who will advance to the knockout stage. For the US men’s team, that means a showdown with Iran where the mission is simple: win and you’re in.

Heading into Tuesday afternoon’s game, which begins at 2 pm ET, here’s how it stands in Group B:

England: 4 points
Iran: 3 points
United States: 2 points
Wales: 1 point

Technically, all the teams are still alive, even if Wales… well, I probably wouldn’t feel particularly good if I was a Wales supporter right now. However, I am a supporter of the United States, and as such, here are the three ways things could go for them on Tuesday afternoon.

The USMNT is heading home if…

…they don’t beat Iran. Obviously, it would have been preferable if the team had not need getting three points to go on, only drawing against Wales, where Walker Zimmerman’s clumsy and unnecessary challenge on Gareth Bale led to a penalty that remains the only goal the team have allowed in Qatar, looms large.

That said, one consolation is that the team goes into its final game knowing exactly what it will have to do from start to finish, and the goal will never change no matter what. At no time will they need to change their approach to the game, as they will need to play to win all the time. So I guess that’s good.

Is a draw or loss possible? Extremely! The Americans have one goal and two shots on goal in total in group play. Both of these have been a problem for a few months now, and while Iran was torn apart by England, that was more of a case of England having a Really good day while iran had a Really bad day. Their defensive stinginess and organization played a big part in getting them to the World Cup, and they only need a draw to advance. It’s not hard to imagine a tough 0-0 win that sends the Americans home and the Iranians into the knockout round. If I were Gregg Berhalter, I would just tell the guys to score a lot of goals. My hunch is that he’s going to do this.

Assuming England beat Wales, here’s how things would break down for the USA with a draw and loss:

Draw: England 7, Iran 4, USA 3, Wales 1
Loss: England 7, Iran 6, USA 2, Wales 1

It goes without saying, but this wouldn’t be especially good for the Yankees. Let’s go to the best options.

The USMNT is finishing in second place if…

…they beat Iran and nothing unusual happens in England vs. Welsh. The maximum number of points the United States can earn is five. England will almost certainly beat a Wales team that was terrible against Iran, listless against the USA, and will be without first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey because of a red card he picked up in the last game. Hennessey’s backup is a Premier League starter, Leicester City’s Danny Ward, but regardless, it’s extremely hard to imagine a world where Wales can get all three points here.

Wales are in a position where a win and draw in the other game would put them through so they need to try. However, doing that against a much better England team could be a terrible idea, especially if Gareth Southgate catches on and plays Phil Foden.

As for the US, the last section focused on its biggest problem, so let’s get to the good stuff. His defense has not conceded an open play goal, allowing 1.55 expected goals (which includes the penalty) against Wales and 0.77 against England, according to FotMob. Zimmerman’s centre-back pairing, aside from that poor decision in the box, and Tim Ream has been strong (Ream, in particular, has been outstanding), Antonee Robinson seems to have an unlimited gas tank at left-back, and Sergiño Dest, whose best asset is his offensive sense, has generally been good on the right. The midfield trio of Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah have done everything that’s been asked of them and then some, while Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah have been dangerous on the wings, even if that last detail has eluded them. except for Weah’s goal against the Welshman.

They have the talent to beat an Iran team that can be quite dangerous. Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun have been two of the best players at the World Cup by expected goals without penalty, but if the Americans can continue to defend and spot dangerous moments before they really have a chance to develop, they should be fine, especially if Matt Turner is as good as he’s been when he’s been called up. As for the whole “need to score goals” thing, keep your fingers crossed that Giovanni Reyna, who is the best player on the team at making things happen, plays. (It’s been weird!)

Anyway, this is the most likely outcome. As of this writing, the good folks in Las Vegas have the USMNT at -105 to win, while a tie is +240 and an Iran win is +310. Victory for England and USA would mean the group ends with England on seven points, USA on five, Iran on three and Wales on one.

The USMNT is winning the group if…

…they beat Iran and things get weird in England vs. Welsh. Like, extremely rare. Like, weird in a way that makes me wonder if this section is worth wasting time writing. If the United States and Wales win, the United States wins the group, simple as that. England would still make it unless Wales pumped out a ton of goals. I am fully confident that this will not happen, even with Harry Kane’s fitness is a questionbut hey, England in a great tournament.

The other weird scenario: USA win while England and Wales draw. If this happened, the United States and England would each have five points. Basically, there is an extremely narrow path, if this happens, where the United States can overtake England. You can read this if you’re interested in learning how World Cup tiebreakers work, and here’s everything that can happen on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

This scenario is mainly for fun. A good 99.9 percent of realists are the first two. That means that, in all probability, either Iran or the United States would play the team that wins Group A in the knockout round, which would mean either Ecuador, Senegal or the Netherlands. That group will be settled earlier in the day: the top two teams play each other, while the Dutch take on Qatar, who have already been knocked out.

The winners of Group A and the runners-up of Group B would play on Saturday at 10 p.m. play.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *