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U.S. Men's Olympic Team Advancement Scenarios


With the top two finishers in each group advancing to the quarterfinals, the U.S. can advance to the next round with a win, draw, and possibly even a loss against Nigeria. The U.S. also has a chance to win Group B, which would mean they would face the second place team in Group A in the quarterfinals. Below are the scenarios for advancing to the quarterfinals, and for winning Group B.

How the U.S. can advance to the quarterfinals:

1) A win against Nigeria
With a win, the U.S. would end up with the most points in the group (7).

2) A draw against Nigeria
With a draw, the U.S. would end up tied with Nigeria on points and goal differential, but would finish ahead on the next tiebreaker, goals scored.

3) A loss against Nigeria AND a Netherlands draw or loss against Japan
With a loss, the U.S. could still finish in second place and advance to the quarterfinals with four points, but only if the Netherlands, sitting on two points, either lose or draw against Japan. A draw would only provide the Netherlands with three points, finishing below the U.S. at four points (Japan has no chance of catching the U.S. with zero points going into the final match).

How the U.S. can win the group:

1) A win against Nigeria
With a win, the U.S. would end up with the most points in the group (7).

2) A draw against Nigeria AND Netherlands draw or loss against Japan
With a draw, the U.S. would end up tied with Nigeria on points and goal differential, but would finish ahead on the next tiebreaker, goals scored. If the Netherlands, only sitting on two points, either lose or draw against Japan, they would end up with at most three points, finishing below the U.S. at four points

3) A draw against Nigeria AND a Netherlands win AND win the tiebreakers
With a draw AND a Netherlands win, the U.S. could still win the group depending on the tiebreakers (goal difference and goals scored). In this scenario, both teams would finish with five points. The U.S. would finish with a +1 goal differential, which means the U.S. would need the Netherlands (at a goal differential of 0 after two games) to only defeat Japan by one goal, putting them tied on goal differential at +1. If the Netherlands win by more than one goal, they would win the group. If the Netherlands win by just one goal, the next tiebreaker is goal scored. If it moves to this tiebreaker, as long as the U.S. scores at least as many goals as the Netherlands it would also win the group (after two games the U.S. is at 3, while the Netherlands are at 2).

However, if the U.S. and Netherlands are equal on the points, goal difference and goals scored, their ranking would be determined by a fair play point system, in which the number of yellow and red cards each team has received is evaluated. And if they’re still tied, the group winner will be decided by drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.

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