USMNT World Cup bracket scenarios: What does USA need to qualify for the round of 16?

In Friday’s first leg, Iran beat Wales 2-0 after sensational late goals from Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian at the Al-Rayyan Stadium.

Iran had more chances, hitting the woodwork several times, but luck seemed to smile on the Welsh, despite Wayne Hennessey’s late red card. However, Cheshmi’s 99th-minute strike from outside gave Iran a famous win, Rezaeian then finished off the counter-attack.

Although England versus the United States needs a little more meaning – more on that later – the result made it clear what the USMNT must do if they want to escape the group stages.

The USMNT has successfully reached the knockout stage in six of the 10 World Cup tournaments they have qualified for.

Will they go through if they beat England?

Not quite – but almost. That means the USMNT will have four points, England three points, Iran three points and Wales one point.

Group B if the USMNT wins

team W D L Points

United States

1

1

0

4

England

1

0

1

3

Iran

1

0

1

3

Wales

0

1

1

1

The USMNT play Iran in their final group game and a point in that game would guarantee promotion, while a win would see them win the group. England play Wales in their final group game.

However, if Iran beat the USMNT, Gregg Berhalter’s side would be eliminated if England beat Wales.

What about a draw?

It escalates the situation quite a bit. England would have four points, Iran would be on three, the USMNT would have two points and Wales only one.

Group B if USMNT draw

team W D L Points

England

1

1

0

4

Iran

1

0

1

3

USMNT

0

2

0

2

Wales

0

1

1

1

Simply put, a win against Iran will put the USMNT through, although whether it would be as group winners depends on England’s result against Wales.

However, any other result will result in the American team being eliminated.

Are the USMNT at a loss?

This is where it gets more complicated. Their fate would be out of their hands.

Group B if the USMNT loses

team W D L Points

England

2

0

0

6

Iran

1

0

1

3

USMNT

0

1

1

1

Wales

0

1

1

1

England will advance as group winners with six points, Iran with three points and Wales and the USMNT with one point each.

The USMNT needs to beat Iran and then hope Wales can’t beat England. If Wales beat England, the USMNT require their goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded) to be better than Wales, as the two teams would be tied on four points.

Who could play the USMNT in the playoffs?

They will face one of the teams from Group A, which includes Qatar, the Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal.

If the USMNT finishes second, their most likely opponent will be the Netherlands. They have lost four of their five matches against the Dutch, but won their last 4-3 in 2015.

If the USMNT wins the group, the most likely opponents are either Ecuador or Senegal, who will face each other in the final round of group games on Tuesday to decide advancement. They have won five, drawn five and lost five against Ecuador, but have never played Senegal.

What is the history of England vs USMNT in the World Cup?

England did not play in their first World Cup until 1950 and their first ever game in the tournament was against the United States, who entered the game in Belo Horizonte as massive underdogs.

However, USMNT striker Joe Gaetjens’ 38th-minute goal gave his side a famous victory and saw England eliminated in the group stage.

England have only lost to the United States once – a friendly in 1993 – but faced them again at the World Cup in 2010. Although Steven Gerrard gave England an early lead, a mistake by Rob Green allowed Clint Dempsey to equalise. The USMNT would go on to win the group.

Athletic’s Oli Kay explored the rivalry in more detail here.

(Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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