The United States reached the knockout stage of consecutive World Cups for the first time, just not the way the Americans wanted.
Germany beat the U.S. 1-0 Thursday in soggy Recife on Thomas Mueller's 55th-minute goal to win Group G, but the Americans held onto second place when Portugal defeated Ghana 2-1 in a game played simultaneously in Brasilia.
The Germans, three-time World Cup champions, finished with seven points, while the U.S. had four after allowing a 95th-minute goal against Portugal on Sunday in a 2-2 draw. Portugal also had four, but the Americans advanced from the so-called "Group of Death" because their goal difference was even and the Portuguese were minus three.
The Americans will play the Group H winner, likely Belgium but possibly Algeria, Monday in Salvador.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
The United States and Germany both have four points and are atop Group G over Ghana and Portugal who have one point each. In the group stage of the World Cup, wins are worth three points, and draws are worth one point. All four teams have one game remaining.
Germany and the U.S. will play Thursday in Recife, and Ghana and Portugal will kick off at the same time in Brasilia.
Here are the scenarios:
-If the U.S. wins: The Americans are through to the next round as the winners of Group G and will play the second place team from Group H. (Belgium currently leads Group H, followed by Algeria, Russia and South Korea)
Germany would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed Germany on goal differential. Germany currently is plus 4, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. The second place finisher plays the winner of Group H.
-If Germany wins: Germany wins the group.
The U.S. would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed the U.S. on goal differential. The U.S. is plus 1, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. So, if the U.S. loses to Germany, it will be rooting for Portugal, because it's less likely that Portugal could pass the U.S. on goal differential.
-If Germany and the U.S. draw: Germany wins the group and the U.S. finishes second. The result of the other game is meaningless.
-If Ghana and Portugal draw: The U.S. and Germany advance. Germany wins the group unless the U.S. defeats them.
-Other tiebreakers: In any of these scenarios involving goal differential, if two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals scored. Germany has six goals, the U.S. has four, Ghana has there and Portugal has two.