Connect with us

Sports

Why a respectable loss to England would do USMNT no good in World Cup Group B

The U.S. could try to just keep it close with England on Friday, but that strategy would likely come back to bite the Americans.

News Agencies

Published

on

DOHA, Qatar — Ever since April 1, when the 2022 World Cup’s Group B took shape at a glitzy draw here in Doha, there has been a tentative assumption, derived from history and the contour of this group, that four points might be sufficient.

The U.S. could, the thinking went, draw with Wales, lose respectably to England, beat Iran and advance.

Similar outputs, after all, have taken the USMNT to World Cup knockout stages in the past. Win-loss-draw was the formula in 2002 and 2010. With England so clearly favored to top the group in 2022, the Americans, it seemed, just had to avoid a heavy defeat on Black Friday (2 p.m. ET, Fox/Telemundo) and they’d be fine.

But that certainly isn’t how they’re approaching a showdown with implications that could transcend this World Cup. And it was always a faulty assumption in the first place.

Matchday 1 went according to the assumption. England smashed Iran. The USMNT and Wales ended level. And Matchday 2 expectations remain intact. England is a -175 favorite to beat the U.S.

The four-point theory crumbles, though, when you unpack the various scenarios and the incentives that lie in wait.

AL RAYYAN, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Christian Pulisic of USA during the World Cup match between USA v Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Al Rayyan Qatar (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Christian Pulisic of USA during the World Cup match between USA vs Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Al Rayyan Qatar (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

How it could all break down

The particularly relevant scenario — and the most likely one, according to bookmakers — is that England beats the U.S. and Wales beats Iran. It would, on one hand, leave the Iranians eliminated, with nothing to play for when they meet the U.S. next Tuesday. And it would, in theory, allow the U.S. to beat Iran and take second place on goal differential, assuming England takes care of Wales.

But more importantly, it would make that assumption dangerous, because it’d leave England and Wales with aligned incentives.

England would top the group with a draw. Wales would advance with a draw. Neither would collude to manufacture a draw, of course, but each would be incentivized to not lose rather than to win. Only competitive integrity and intra-Britain rivalry would compel them to attack. Both factors would wane, and pragmatism would replace them, as the game wore on.

The USMNT would, therefore, by losing to England, no matter the scoreline, leave themselves susceptible to fishiness and, more generally, to the sequence of the group. They’d go into the final matchday needing help from elsewhere, with their World Cup fate having slipped from their own hands.

USMNT rooting interests in Wales-Iran

Wales and Iran will kick off nine hours before the U.S. and England on Friday, and the ideal result there, for American interests, is a draw.

It would leave Wales on two points and Iran on one, and actually open up the possibility that two points — via a slender loss to England and a score draw with Iran — would be sufficient.

In the Wales-Iran draw scenario, England would clinch the top spot in Group B with a win over the U.S., and while it might then rest stars versus Wales on Decision Day, its still-very-talented reserves could play freely, with nothing to lose.

And of course, in this scenario, a U.S. win over Iran would very likely be enough.

But the gaming out of these scenarios underestimates the randomness of this sport, and particularly this tournament. It also underestimates Iran, who, yes, conceded six goals to England, but did not play nearly as poorly as the scoreline suggests.

There is every chance that Iran beats Wales on Friday, in which case there’d be very little difference between a USMNT draw and loss against England. Either way, they’d have to beat Iran on the final day. And that, for a U.S. team that struggles to create quality chances against tightly packed defenses, could be far more difficult than many realize.

The moral of this story, then, is twofold but layered.

First, the Wales-Iran result will determine the relative values of the various possible outcomes for the U.S. against England.

And second, the U.S. should not overly concern itself with goal differential. Yes, it could come into play; but no, it isn’t more valuable than points. The U.S. should chase a draw (if Wales beats or ties Iran) or a win (if Iran beats Wales) rather than revert to damage-limitation.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Breaking News

Advertisement

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment58 mins ago

‘This may be the greatest performance I’ve ever seen on this show’: Bodie sets the bar even higher for ‘The Voice’ Season 22

Team Blake’s Bodie delivers another historic performance on ‘The Voice’ Season 22. (Photo: NBC) Last week on The Voice, SoCal...

Iqra Aziz did not feel relaxed working with Feroze Khan Iqra Aziz did not feel relaxed working with Feroze Khan
Entertainment4 hours ago

Iqra Aziz did not feel relaxed working with Feroze Khan

Pakistani drama Actress Iqra Aziz says she did not feel relaxed while working with actor Feroze Khan. In the program...

Entertainment11 hours ago

‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Wins Best Feature at Gotham Awards

The 32nd annual Gotham Awards have wrapped and big winners of the night were “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and...

Entertainment11 hours ago

Gotham Awards 2022: Winners List (Updating Live)

The 32nd annual Gotham Awards is underway (watch it live here) the celebration that marks the official start of awards...

Entertainment11 hours ago

Gotham Awards 2022: Full Winners List

The 32nd annual Gotham Awards have wrapped and big winners of the night were “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and...

Entertainment12 hours ago

Nick Holly, Manager and Co-Creator of ‘Sons & Daughters,’ Dies at 51

Nick Holly, a manager, writer and producer who co-created the ABC comedy series “Sons & Daughters,” died Nov. 21 of...

Entertainment12 hours ago

Billie Eilish opens up about boyfriend Jesse Rutherford: ‘I’m really happy about it’

Billie Eilish and Jesse Rutherford attend the LACMA Art+Film Gala at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles...

Entertainment14 hours ago

Jennifer Lopez reflects on Ben Affleck split: ‘I honestly felt like I was going to die’

Jennifer Lopez celebrates 20th anniversary of This Is Me…Now and reflects on Ben Affleck relationship. (Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty...

Latest Sports

Sports47 mins ago

Week 13 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: The return of Ja’Marr Chase, J.K. Dobbins & Deshaun Watson

Matt Harmon and Andy Behrens spent most of this podcast avoiding talking about what is available on the fantasy football...

Sports1 hour ago

Jim Harbaugh downplays Michigan’s flag plant: ‘I want to get that flag’

Jim Harbaugh brushed off any questions surrounding what Michigan did during its postgame celebration after the Wolverines' 45-23 victory over...

Sports1 hour ago

Kyle Shanahan responds to Raheem Mostert’s 49ers injury mismanagement claim

Kyle Shanahan responded to Raheem Mostert's claim that the 49ers attempted to pressure him out of having season-ending knee surgery...

Sports2 hours ago

Fantasy Football: Early waiver wire pickups for Week 13

Check out two players to consider pursuing on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues ahead of Week 13.

Sports2 hours ago

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

Sixteen members of the contemporary baseball era committee will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot.

Sports3 hours ago

Steve Kerr, Warriors view James Wiseman’s G League assignment as ‘long term’

Steve Kerr spoke about James Wiseman's development prior to the Warriors' game against the Timberwolves on Sunday.

Sports3 hours ago

World Cup 2022: Cameroon GK Andre Onana misses Switzerland match, reportedly leaves team after disagreement with coach

Andre Onana is reportedly no longer with the national team after he disagreed with the coach's defensive tactics.

Sports3 hours ago

Patriots owner Robert Kraft gives Devin McCourty special gift before 200th game

Devin McCourty will reach a special milestone Thursday against the Bills, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft presented the veteran safety...

Technology Hot News

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter? Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?
Technology1 month ago

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?

Elon Musk, the owner of the electric car company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX, and the richest man in the world,...

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours
Technology1 month ago

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours

WhatsApp services were affected in various countries of the world, including Pakistan, and India due to this users were facing...

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies
Technology2 months ago

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies currently occupy an odd place in society. They are no longer the super niche bizarre currency beloved by tech...

Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads
Editor Picks3 months ago

Personal data of people are sold on Google Play and Google Ads

It’s been two to three years since Google has been unknowingly hosting multiple apps from malicious actors who sell personal...

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours
Technology5 months ago

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours

An end-to-end encrypted email service Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours, netizens reported on social...

What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop
Technology6 months ago

What’s better for the student: a tablet or a laptop

Some analysts argue that computers have outlived their usefulness. There is some truth in this: PC and laptop sales are...

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary
Technology7 months ago

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary

USA: Elon Musk, the founder of companies like Tesla and SpaceX, can actually buy anything in the world. Last month,...

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat? How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?
Technology7 months ago

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?

Pakistan: Zafar Supari a public figure, businessman, and social media sensation has crossed one hundred thirty-three thousand 133k subscribers on...