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So the US soccer team survived the so-called "Group of Death" and will advance to the next round, even though they lost the last game against Germany.

According to my coworkers and assorted Facebook friends, that is just wrong. After all, a truly American sport never rewards losers. Real Americans win or go home. See my response below the squiggle

"How can the USA advance by losing?"

Not "by" but "in spite of." In the group stage of the WC, each team gets 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, and none for a loss. The team with the most points advances to the knock-out stage. If two teams have the same number of points (USA and Portugal), the team that won by a higher margin or lost by a lower margin (USA) advances. That's called goal differential.

 "It's rigged."

Right. The officials planned to send superstar Cristiano Ronaldo home early. That makes as much sense as purposely eliminating LeBron James in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

"No American sports would allow a losing team to advance."

Didn't y'all just watch the NBA playoffs? Did the Spurs win every single game? Was winning in spite of not sweeping un-American? (rhetorical questions)
The WC has a group stage for the same reason as the NBA has best-of-seven series: more games and more revenue. Nothing communist about it.

"Why would anybody want to see a tournament where there can be a tie?"

Well, due to the goal differential rule, in the group stage, it is important to make as many goals and concede as few goals as possible. Unlike in the NBA, for instance, where a W is a W, a blowout is not only fun to watch for the supporters of the winner, but it can also decide whether a team advances or not.

 A team could win 1:0 and still "lose" because another team in the group wins by a higher margin.

 From the next round on, each game will have a winner and a loser, and the number of goals won't matter. This means that sometimes it is strategically expedient to defend after making the first goal instead of pushing for more. It also means that instead of draws and split points, there will be overtime and sometimes penalty kicks. Some people find that exciting, others heartbreaking and frustrating.

So how many more games do they need to lose before they are champions?

Seriously, somebody asked that. If they lose the next game against Belgium, they are going home. That's why that round of the tournament is called knock-out stage.

"I'll stick with football."

That's your prerogative, dude.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 11:28:20 AM PDT

  •  It is actually kind of humorous (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yoshimi, slowbutsure, Back In Blue

    given how weirdly College playoffs are seeded.

    Or golf tournaments.  Those are seeded by rankings.  It really isn't a "foreign" concept in traditionally American sports.

    Totally blows my mind how freaked out people are about the World Cup Group Stage process.  Its a sport with matches - or games people insist on saying here - and it isn't that important if you don't want it to be.  I happen to love it, but I don't care of other people don't.  

    I don't like baseball, but I don't spend seven months of my year carping about it on social media.  I ignore it.  It isn't that important to me.

  •  good point but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure

    I think what rubs people the wrong way is how the sport is covered in the US media.  Everything always has to be so heroic and epic complete with all the tried and true storylines that don't necessarily have anything to do with reality.

    Truth is the US played horrible against Germany.  They barely had the ball and only had one shot on goal the entire game.  Maybe they weren't playing to win only to advance but they looked awful and if hadn't rained the result probably would have been much worse.

    That's the reality.  If the media was honest the story would be how the team needs to step it up in order to advance.  Strategy would be discussed and picked over.  Lineup changes mulled.

    If we were to be more honest we might even talk about how futball or soccer is a cerebral game played by a team not individuals with patience being the biggest virtue and how the American team seems to be lacking in that regard.  Might it be because America in the age of Sportscenter has grown to value style over substance?  

    Instead we get recycled Olympic stories on how the heroic underdogs survived the group of death.   This despite the fact that the USA has 4X the population of Germany and 30X the population of Portugal.  Do we realize how stupid this sounds?  

    •  If we were more honest we would write falsehoods (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NXNW, slowbutsure, MaikeH

      like:

      only had one shot on goal the entire game
      That is nonsense. Did you even watch the game?
      •  I should go check the stats, but the US (0+ / 0-)

        had very little possession.  US would get the ball and I would look at the time or something and they would be dispossessed.  And the awesome US goalie kept doing long passes, which the US was unable to capitalize on.  Still the US defense was quite good, and Germany's one goal was a thing of brilliance and very hard to defend against.

        ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

        by slowbutsure on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:37:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  google usa germany match stats (0+ / 0-)

        4 total shots
        1 on goal

        67%-33% time of possession

        •  I don't know what constitutes "shot on goal", then (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MaikeH

          for I remember two during just the time from when Yedlin entered the game.  There was a shot in the penalty area that was blocked, and a Dempsey header that went just over the goal.  And I recall a shot in the first half as well.

          Anyway, nobody is claiming the US outplayed Germany.  They didn't have to.  Instead, they had to have their performance against Germany outplay Portugal's performance against Germany, a feat the accomplished with ease.

          Nearly every expert predicted the US to not survive the Group of Death.  Well, they did.  And it deserves to be celebrated.  Sorry if that pisses you off.

          Lastly, don't give me that crap about population sizes.  In Germany, soccer is the number one sport, so it's the sport that most of their very best athletes play.  The USMNT players are good athletes, but most of our top athletes are playing other sports.

          •  First off... (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not pissed at all.  My comments have nothing to do with whether or not the team was deserving (of course it was!) only with the way the US media chooses to cover the event.  Personally, I think what we do to sell the event in the short term is counter productive in the long term.  Ultimately what we're doing is selling the love of the story (one that is uniquely American and we hear over and over again) and not the love of the sport.  As a country we have quite a bad habit of doing that and it does have a cost.

            And I do have to say I believe your comments on soccer not being our number one sport misguided and a convenient meme that's trotted out every time we're not better then someone else.  Leaving aside the suspect notion that the skills of one sport inherently translate to another sport.  There are still 23 players on the US chosen team out of a potential pool 4 times a big as Germany and 30 times the size of Portugal and roughly 29 times the size of Belgium.  Millions play youth soccer in the US.  Every college has a team.  If the wealthiest nation on earth can't recruit and train a competitive world cup team and other countries can then that is our failure.  

    •  I was thrilled when we won against Ghana (0+ / 0-)

      But objectively, if you take out the first minute and last six minutes of the match, Ghana absolutely outplayed Team USA.  Team USA also looked flat against Germany but looked very good against Portugal.  However, you have to play 90+ minutes of good football to win, but Team USA played only 89 minutes of good football.  They looked bad in the first five minutes, got their composure, and played extremely well until the final 30 seconds of the match.

    •  Why would anyone be rubbed the wrong way? (0+ / 0-)

      That is how all sports are covered in America. Hell, that's how everything is covered in America.  Everyone's a fucking hero or villain.  Maybe I'm not sure who you are saying is rubbed the wrong way, soccer fans or the ignorant, xenophobic, mostly male, mostly white, mostly old assholes who are never going to like soccer anyway.  The soccer fans I know could care less about what the media says or does.  We already know what they are going to say because the keep repeating the same story over and over again.  We watch the games and follow sports news that reports the game, not the bullshit.  And in America, the bullshit is the proudly American pastime of making fun of the most popular sport in the world.  

      America, where a rising tide lifts all boats! Unless you don't have a boat...uh...then it lifts all who can swim! Er, uh...um...and if you can't swim? SHAME ON YOU!

      by Back In Blue on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 02:06:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  But are these real 'mericans being dumb or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure, Utahrd

    just sarcastic.
    The WC is just like the NFL somehow.
    -You play a league format. Team/s with most wins move into the play-offs even though they may have lost some games along the way...
    -What's different in that?

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935 --Talk of foresight--

    by tuma on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:06:16 PM PDT

    •  Either/both (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slowbutsure, inclusiveheart

      The ones that refuse to understand the game but still feel they must comment on it think that it is somehow beneath us to be interested in soccer. If Americans didn't invent it and/or dominate it, they shouldn't even bother.

      261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

      by MaikeH on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:27:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Likewise, nobody whines when: (5+ / 0-)

    -Hockey games end in a tie
    -Basketball players flop on the floor to fake a foul
    -We watch a very slow game of football or baseball with advertisements every two minutes
    -Tiger Woods loses a round of golf and goes on to finigh his tournament the next day along with everyone else that didn't "win" that first day

    In fact, we love it when our team is down three games in a playoff and come back to win it.

  •  I tell people: The first round (5+ / 0-)

    games are the "regular season".  From here on out, it's the playoffs.   You don't need to win the last game of the season to make the playoffs.

    •  Olympic Ice Hockey is similar, in that there's (2+ / 0-)

      a group stage and you don't need to win every game to advance out of it, and I never hear any dumb/ignorant/confused comments about that.  I don't know why there are such comments being made about the World Cup.  It's not rocket science.  And it's not the first tome the US advanced out of the grow stage despite losing the last game of that stage.  It happened in 2002 and I believe in 1994.

  •  College baseball world series (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    Is very similar. Its a round robin, play x number of teams in the regional and advance if you win more than lose.

    "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

    by BOHICA on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:36:46 PM PDT

  •  I don't care who doesn't like soccer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    There are a lot of sports I don't find particularly interesting to watch. I realize, though, oftentimes that's because I don't know enough about it to appreciate it. For instance, my boyfriend, who played football in high school, can see the strategy in a football game while I see large men pushing each other up and down a field and sometimes end up in a pile.

    I do know, however, that there's more to it than that and either shut up or ask questions out of curiosity, not out of the need to demonstrate that his favorite sport is "weird" or beneath me as an educated person or whatever.

    Btw, I'm convinced that if the US became champion, the same people who now claim that soccer is "foreign" or "girly" would climb on the bandwagon in a second.

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:44:40 PM PDT

  •  I think these games in the round robin (0+ / 0-)

    can and often are more exciting than the elimination games.

    When these elimination games get tied and go into overtime they can get long and a bit tedious.

    Better to settle the whole tournament with round robins.

  •  Michael Wilbon (0+ / 0-)

    On the one hand, he did say that Klinsmann should leave the country because of criticism of Kobe Bryant's contract.

    On the other hand, he did have the great quote, "Hating soccer is about how white and 60 you are."

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 03:45:18 PM PDT

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