Posts Tagged ‘2014’

Jurgen

Why so nervous, Klinsi? “Because I’ve read your scenarios below. HOW many games do we have to win to guarantee moving on?”

[EDIT: I realized after posting this piece that the minimum number of points the USA could advance with is zero – not one, as I originally stated.  I’ve updated the post to reflect this.  I’m not so great at math, obviously.  My bad.]

[EDIT AGAIN: Now I’ve realized that the USA is guaranteed a spot in the hex with only 4 points, not 6 as stated below.  I’m officially terrible at math.]

The final two games of the third round of CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying are looming on the horizon for the USMNT: the first an away match in Antigua, and the second a home tilt against Guatemala at sold-out Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.  With Guatemala, Jamaica, and the USA all sitting on 7 points apiece, this morning I started wondering exactly what sort of results the USA needs out of these two fixtures.  Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve gleaned from taking a look at the numbers:

The USA could find itself in the hex with 0 points from these next two matches.  I shudder to think that this could happen, but if the universe were kind enough to the USMNT in terms of other results, the USA could mathematically advance despite losing against both Antigua and Guatemala.  If the USA and Jamaica both lose their next two matches, Guatemala would finish at the top of the group, with the USA, Jamaica, and Antigua all sitting on 7 points.  Provided the USA had a higher goal differential than the other two nations (likely for Antigua, iffy for Jamaica), they’d finish second on the tiebreaker.

Needless to say, this scenario – even if the stars aligned and the USA went through – would likely be seen as something of a disaster.  USMNT fans would despair, and would probably be calling for Klinsi’s head on a platter.  Nobody wants to see this happen.

Sunil

“Waiter – bring me Jurgen’s head. I’m so very hungry.”

6 points guarantees the USA moves on to the hex.  If the USA wins these final two matches, they’ll finish with 13 points.  Under this scenario, only one other team (Jamaica) could possibly finish above the USA, if they also won their last two remaining matches AND had a higher goal differential than the USA.  Guatemala could finish with a maximum of 10 points under this scenario, with Antigua out of contention after matchday 1.  Thus, the message here is simple: win these two games and you’re through, most likely finishing first in the group.

Edit: 4 points also guarantees the USA moves on in the tournament, though not necessarily at the top of the group.  God, my math skills are terrible.  Whoops.

Qualification for the hex is possible with 1, 2, or 3 points, but would be practically as nerve-wracking as going through with 0 points.  There are many scenarios that would put the USA through to the hex with 1 point (a draw and a loss), 2 points (2 draws), or 3 points (a win and a loss).  But like the first scenario explored above, the USA’s fate with 1, 2, or 3 points would depend heavily on the results of other matches.  And let’s be honest – no USA fan wants to hedge the USA’s advancement on the outcome of other matches or goal differentials.

The bottom line: the USA’s fate rests squarely in the team’s hands.  Against weaker opposition, the USA should be able to comfortably advance to the hex with two decisive victories on the 12th and 16th.  The USA has the added advantage of facing the stronger of the two opponents – Guatemala – on home soil, in front of what should be a raucous, pro-USA Livestrong Sporting Park crowd.  And good thing, as the USA cannot lose there if they want to ensure that they go through to the hex on their own merits, rather than due to the fortunate results of the Antigua/Jamaica tilt.

Until next time – get those 6 points, and GO USA!