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2010 FIFA World Cup: How the USA Can Qualify for the Knockout Stages

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 18:  The United States team line up and sing the national anthem with their flag in the crowd the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between Slovenia and USA at Ellis Park Stadium on June 18, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images
Ash MarshallSenior Analyst IJune 18, 2010

England's lackluster goalless draw against African minnows Algeria, means the USA has its World Cup fate in its own hands.

Michael Bradley's equalizing goal for America against Slovenia was crucial because it means that the USA will definitely advance to the knockout stages with a victory over Algeria next week. But what if they lose? And what are the tiebreak rules if two teams are tied?

Slovenia currently leads Group C with four points. USA and England are tied on two points, although America is technically second because even though both nations' goal difference is the same (zero), America has scored two more goals that England. Algeria is at the bottom with one point, although they are still not out of things.

Here are the permutations for the USA in their final group game, which takes place at the same time as the England-Slovenia game on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

If the USA beats Algeria

They are definitely through to the knockout stages. They would qualify as group runners up if Slovenia beat England. In this case they would play the winner from Group D.

They would qualify as group winners if they beat Algeria by at least two goals and Slovenia and England draw by any scoreline. If this happens they would play the runner-up from Group D.


If the USA loses to Algeria

They are out, regardless of what happens between Slovenia and England.

If the USA draws against Algeria by any score

They can't win group, but they are not definitely out. They will qualify as runners up if England lose, or draw 0-0 or 1-1. In this case they would face the winner of Group D.

Specific scenarios if the USA draws with Algeria

If the USA draw 0-0, they will advance, as runners up if England either lose or do not score at least two goals.

If the USA draw 1-1, they will advance as runners up, if England either lose or do not score at least three goals.

If the USA draw 2-2, they will advance as runners up if England either lose or do not score at least four goals.

Tie breakers

If the USA and England are tied on points and goal difference, it will come down to which country has scored the most goals in its three games.

If the USA draws with Algeria, and England draws with Slovenia by two more goals (e.g. USA draws 1-1 and England draws 3-3; or USA draws 2-2 and England draws 4-4), then the FIFA Organising Committee will flip a coin.

That has only happened only once in the World Cup, and that was 20 years ago between Holland and the Republic of Ireland.

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