Earlier this evening Team USA got the exact results they were looking for. First, they took care of business easily beating Colombia 31-17 to pick up their first win in the tournament. The U.S. played their most complete game playing solid defense and scoring readily on the fast break. Then afterwards, Paraguay handed Puerto Rico its first loss of the tournament to set up a possible 3 way tie on points for 2nd place in Group A.
Assuming Brazil beats Puerto Rico tomorrow, Puerto Rico will finish with 4 points. And, if the U.S. can muster a win over Paraguay tomorrow, both Paraguay and the U.S. will also have 4 points. And, those 3 teams in head to head competition will each have 2 points a piece with 1 win and 1 loss, meaning that tiebreakers will come into play.
Here’s the current standings.
|Head to Head Standings (Current)|
First the simple math: If Paraguay wins or draws with the U.S. it’s all over. Paraguay takes 2nd place.
But, here’s the more complicated math and the possible scenarios. Keep in mind Puerto Rico is done as far as this head to head competition goes since they’ve already played their matches against the U.S. and Paraguay.
The first tie breaker is head to head goal differential
|USA wins by 5 (or more)|
|USA (Qualifies for SF)||1||1||0||2||1|
|USA wins by 3 (or less)|
|Paraguay (Qualifies for SF)||1||1||0||2||1|
If, however, the USA were to win by 4 goals, there would be a tied Goal Differential, meaning the next tiebreaker, Total goals head to head would break the tie.
|USA wins by 4 exactly and scores 29 (or more)|
|USA wins by 4 exactly and scores 27 (or less)|
|Puerto Rico (Qualifies)||1||1||0||2||0||53||53|
And, finally, if the U.S. were to win by the score of 28-24, there would be a tie in total head to head goals
|USA wins by 4 exactly and scores 28 (exactly)|
And, while you might think that Paraguay would drop out since they can’t match the 53 total goals, that’s not how the tiebreakers work. Even if a tie is just between two teams the other teams don’t drop out, but continue to the next tie breaker which Goal Differential in all matches where Paraguay has a sizable lead.
Forget the Math Lesson, Can the USA win by 5 goals tomorrow?
Well, the answer to that question really depends on which USA team shows up tomorrow. If it’s the team that got run out of the building by Brazil 42-10 the answer is clearly no way. If it’s the team that was inconsistent against Puerto Rico, again, no chance. But, if it’s the team that played solidly earlier today against Colombia, there’s a chance. Sure, Paraguay is a better side than Colombia, but the Paraguay team I saw today against Puerto Rico, while athletic is pretty young and inexperienced. Their set offense is anything but fluid and a solid defense effort could fluster Paraguay and create some turnovers and fast break opportunities. Create a little lead that could be expanded upon. The U.S. has dug themselves in a bit of a whole, but it’s possible they could dig their way out. Game time tomorrow is 1330 ET.