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World Cup: Matchday 3, Who to root for and Scenarios for USWNT

The US Women's National Team celebrate a goal in their opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. (AP Photo)

The US Women’s National Team celebrate a goal in their opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. (AP Photo)

Although you wouldn’t know it from public reaction and the overall negative feel surrounding the USWNT, the team has a very good chance of winning the so-called “Group of Death”.

A group that featured the FIFA #2 United States, #5 Sweden, #10 Australia and #33 Nigeria – Although they are sure to go up in ranking with its performance this tournament – the USA has navigated its way effectively if not aesthetically.

Its decisive win over Australia and valuable point against Sweden has put the Stars and Stripes in the top spot on 4 points.

In fact, there are ways that the team could win the group even with a loss to Nigeria.

As the US faces Nigeria, Australia will play Sweden who sits on one point from its draw with USA.

The Aussies have 3 points from their win over Nigeria who sits on 1 point from its tie with Sweden.

While American supporters will be riveted to the USA – Nigeria match, one eye will be on the other match.

Let’s address what US fans should be rooting for as Sweden plays Australia:

The best result would be a draw as it would put Australia on 4 points – in a tie with United States – and Sweden would be stuck on 2 points.

With that Result, even a one-goal loss to Nigeria would give the USA the top spot in the group.

The worst result would be a win by Australia.  The win would vault the Aussies into the top spot of group D but the US would have a good chance of advancing.

That result would bury the Swedes in 3d place pending the result of US vs. Nigeria.

With the Aussies in first place on 6 points, the US would need to win to win the group.  However, on 4 points, so long as the United States doesn’t suffer a blowout loss to Nigeria by more than three goals, the USA would hold off Nigeria to finish second on goal differential as the US holds a 4 goal advantage on Nigeria as it enters the game.

An interesting result would be a win by Sweden.

That would put Sweden in first place on 5 points and the US would need at least a point from their game to have a chance to win the group based on goal differential – US also has a 2 goal advantage on Sweden.

So in sum, the US should be rooting for a draw between Australia and Sweden.

That result would guarantee the US at least second place barring a disastrous result against Nigeria.

The second thing the US should be rooting for is a low scoring win by either side but preferably Sweden- The US holds a 2 goal difference which is the best in the group as we stand, but has only managed 3 goals scored.

Of course, the United States makes all this moot should it beat Nigeria.  In that scenario, no result from Sweden and Australia affects the United States as they would win the group on 7 points.

It is worth noting that the only way the US can finish third is if it loses  to Nigeria by more than 2 goals or more and loses out on goal differential or goals for if even with Australia (who is the only team that can get to 4 points with a draw) or if the Aussies win.

Should that happen, the US would be one of the stronger 3d place teams on 4 points and could advance as one of the top 3d place finishers.


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