So if the USA wins, it's through, right?
A) Slovenia beats England: Slov 7, USA 5, Engl 2, Algeria 1
B) England draws: Slov 5, USA 5, Engl 3, Algeria 1
C) England beats Slovenia: USA 5, Engl 5, Slovenia 4, Algeria 1
If the USA draws Algeria, then USA goes through with England loss or.... if England draws, it is goal differential? Or what are the tiebreakers?
=== 2009 Mariners ===
I would personally compare the U.S. team to last year's M's. The U.S. team has a grand total of 0 players in the world's top 100.
Granted, Landon Donovan's fans do argue him for top 100. To me he's not top 100, but he is unquestionably an impact player in the EPL or Spanish premier league. He's 100-200 somewhere.
For Yanks just browsing the World Cup coverage, that's Donovan at left, on loan from the LA Galaxy to powerful #8 finisher Everton. Toffees fans, skeptical on his arrival, took approximately three games to decide that Donovan was the best player Everton had.
"A throwback English winger," they decided, a guy who would run touchline to touchline, afraid of no one, pressing the action with speed and courage for 90 minutes.
At Everton, he won loose balls, took deadly-accurate free kicks and corners, showed magical field vision, and would run 40 yards at a time to press a meaningless challenge. "I thought he'd be slower," griped one Toffees fan who'd staked his reputation on a bet that Donovan would be useless.
The analogy to Ichiro is interesting. Ichiro isn't a dominant physical talent, and if he's your best offensive player you're not going to win the World Series. But he's a complete pro and, like Donovan is world-class if part of a strong team.
The 2009 Mariners had no 40-homer men, no All-Star players other than the diminutive Ichiro (like the diminutive Donovan) ... they did have one great run preventer, Felix, as the U.S. soccer team has a real good keeper (Tim Howard starts for quality English team Everton and is probably one of the five best keepers in England).
The British announcer conceded, manfully, "Indisputable that England have the better players. But they are lacking a togetherness that the U.S. team, right now, has." The U.S. timing, their heart, their willingness to stand up to a daunting opponent, mirrors the M's in Wok's first year.
=== The Game ===
So you can imagine a game 1927 Yanks vs 2009 M's, one game for the fate of the world :- ) and then Doug Fister nervously walks the first two guys and gives up a 425-footer to Babe Ruth for a 3-0 deficit, nobody out.
That was the way when uber-star Steven Gerrard blew into the middle of the U.S. defense and leisurely outside-footed one past Howard. 1-0 after four minutes and the rout was on.
But about 10 minutes in, the U.S. found their timing and they started stringing passes in midfield.
Their fast players came up inside the English midfielders' shirts, keeping pressure on the ball everywhere, and Dr. D couldn't believe his eyes but the U.S. took control of midfield for most of the first half.
English fans were irate about it after the game. One commenter, protesting an anti-Green headline wrote "Come on don't blame Green, England were rubbish."
England did indeed look discombobulated -- but that was in part because the U.S. was flying around the pitch bloodying their knees on every challenge. It's partly the NBA All-Star syndrome with England each World Cup -- every man for himself, no friendliness, no timing -- but still, England is just sardine-jammed with superduperstars. They were pressed into frustration by a plucky rival.
Here's a stock BBC recap that fairly credits the U.S. for its very fine play in the face of an awesome opponent.
Granted England hit like 195-for-260 passes in the second half, compared to something like 95-for-180 for the U.S. Once England finds its form, it's going to take possession against anybody, including Brazil.
But Rooney didn't touch the ball for 17 minutes, didn't touch it inside the 18-yard box for 70 minutes, and as the game went on, both announcers were wondering when the U.S. winner was going to arrive.
If the US beats Algeria, then Slovenia advances with the US (and England is OUT) if Slovenia beats or ties England.
If the US beats Algeria and England beats Slovenia, then we have:
And England and the US advance.
If The US ties Algeria, we can only advance if Slovenia beats or ties England:
Algeria 2 (if the tie-break is goal differential, then it's still tied, because England and the US both have a goal differential of zero...don't know what the next tie-break is)
Algeria 2 (and the US advances over England)
If the US loses to Algeria, we're out no matter what.