USMNT World Cup group scenarios: What does USA need to qualify for the round of 16?


In Monday’s first game, Iran beat Wales 2-0 after sensational late goals from Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian at the Al-Rayyan Stadium.

Iran had the better of the chances, hitting the woodwork on several occasions, but luck seemed to be smiling upon the Welsh, despite Wayne Hennessey’s late red card. However, Cheshmi’s 99th minute strike from outside the area gave Iran a famous win, with Rezaeian then finishing a counter-attack.

Although England vs United States needs little more significance — more of that later — the result has clarified what the USMNT need to do if they are to escape the group stages.

The USMNT has successfully reached the knockout stage at six of the 10 World Cup tournaments that have qualified for.

What’s the history of England vs USMNT at the World Cup?

England did not play in their first World Cup until 1950, and their first ever game at the tournament was against the United States, who entered the match in Belo Horizonte as massive underdogs.

However, a 38th minute goal from USMNT forward Joe Gaetjens gave his side a famous victory, and led to England being knocked out in the group stages.

England have only lost on one other occasion to the United States — a friendly in 1993 — but faced them again in the World Cup in 2010. Though Steven Gerrard gave England an early lead, a mistake from Rob Green allowed Clint Dempsey to equalise. The USMNT would go on to win the group.

The Athletic’s Oli Kay has explored the rivalry in more detail here.

Will they be through if they beat England?

Not quite — but almost. That will put the USMNT on four points, England on three points, Iran on three points, and Wales on one point.

The USMNT play Iran in their final group game, and a point in that match would guarantee progression, while a win would see them win the group. England play Wales in the group’s final fixture.

However, if Iran beat the USMNT, Gregg Berhalter’s side would be knocked out if England beat Wales.

What about a draw?

It makes the situation fairly stark. England would have four points, Iran would be on three, the USMNT will have two points, and Wales only one.

Simply put, a win against Iran will put the USMNT through, though whether that would be as group winners depends on England’s result against Wales.

However, any other result will see the American team knocked out.

Are the USMNT out with a loss?

This is where it becomes more difficult. Their fate would be taken out of their hands.

England will be through as group winners on six points, with Iran on three points, and Wales and the USMNT each on one point.

The USMNT need to beat Iran, and then hope that Wales fail to beat England. If Wales do beat England, the USMNT require their goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded) to be better than Wales, as both teams would be tied on four points.

Who could the USMNT play in the knockouts?

They will play one of the teams from Group A — which includes hosts Qatar, the Netherlands, Ecuador, and Senegal.

If the USMNT finish second their most likely opponent will be the Netherlands. They have lost four of their five games to the Dutch, but won the most recent 4-3 in 2015.

If the USMNT win the group, the most likely opponents are Ecuador or Senegal, who play in the final round of group games on Tuesday to decide progression. They have won five, drawn five, and lost five to Ecuador, but have never played Senegal.

(Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)


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