Well, the U.S. had a very disappointing 34-28 loss vs Puerto Rico, but the good news is that they still have everything to play for when they meet arch rivals Canada today at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. The U.S. even controls their own destiny in that a 5 goal victory would guarantee qualification for the Pan American Championships. And, even a simple 1 goal victory may be all they need. All in all, 4 teams will be fighting for 2 spots today and at the end of day we could have a 4 way tie for 2nd place.
Web Streaming: Link
United States 28×34 Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic 21×22 Canada
Mexico 28×28 Cuba
Today’s Schedule (All Times Local/Central Time USA)
12:00 p.m. United States vs. Canada
2:00 p.m. Dominican Republic vs Cuba
4:00 p.m. Mexico vs. Puerto Rico
It’s funny how the math works out sometimes. One might intuitively think that the outcome of the U.S. vs Canada match might have some impact on qualification scenarios for Mexico and Puerto Rico, but it doesn’t. For Mexico and Puerto Rico the math is real simple:
- If Mexico wins or the match is a draw, Mexico qualifies for the Pan American Championships; Puerto Rico is eliminated
- If Puerto Rico wins, Puerto Rico qualifies, Mexico is eliminated
In other words, plain and simple, the Mexico vs Puerto Rico is a straight qualification match. Those two teams could care less about the Canada vs U.S. match.
With the Canada vs U.S. match the math is a bit more complicated and qualification for the Pan American Games may hinge on the outcome of the Mexico vs Puerto Rico game to be played later in the day.
- Canada wins or the match is a draw, Canada qualifies for the Pan American Championships.
- If the U.S. wins by 1, 2, 3 or 4 goals Pan American Championship qualification hinges on the outcome of the Mexico vs Puerto Rico Match
- If Mexico wins or the match is a draw, the U.S. qualifies and Canada is eliminated
- If Puerto Rico wins, Canada qualifies and the U.S. is eliminated
- If the U.S. wins by 5 goals or more, the U.S. qualifies and Canada is eliminated.
The underlying math behind the above scenarios relates to the numbers of teams involved in the possible tiebreakers. The U.S. would win a tie breaker with just Canada on head to head competition. Where it gets a bit complicated is in the situation where 4 nations end up level on 5 points. (Yes, that would happen if the U.S. and Puerto Rico win)
If that were to happen the standings for head to head competition would look like this.
With the first tiebreaker being points, Puerto Rico qualifies and Mexico is eliminated. The next tiebreaker is then Goal Differential in all games played among the 4 teams. As you can see Canada is currently sitting on +4 and the U.S. is sitting on -6. A five goal victory by the U.S. would have both teams level in GD at -1, at which point the next tiebreaker is Goals For (GF) which the U.S. would win.
A very key point: You might think that once teams are eliminated in the tiebreaker that their results would then go away. And, that the tiebreakers would restart. That, however, is not the case. And, don’t feel bad if you thought differently. Former IHF Playing Rules and Referees Commission Chair has indicated that he’s had to explain this rule to National Team delegations on more than one occasion.