World Cup: How the U.S. Can Advance, And an Update on the Favorites

source -- Jasonwhat, Flickr

Source: Jasonwhat, Flickr

Before the tournament started, we took a look at the six teams Nate Silver and his intrepid data journalism site FiveThirtyEight had pegged as the likely favorites to win it all in the 2014 World Cup. Among those teams that weren’t likely to go all the way were the United States. But the USMNT has taken on a bit of Han Solo, asked not to see the odds, and now they look likely to make it to the round of sixteen — at least.

This is awesome, because the U.S. team is fun, and because Americans are finally starting to fall in love with soccer — or at least starting to watch it, if the match against Portugal is any indication. That match, by the way, illustrated how badly the U.S. needs to keep its collective fingers crossed when it comes to the play of its back line.

Anyway, here we will make an attempt to look at what needs to happen in order for the United States to advance, as well as a look at how the six teams who entered the tournament as the most likely victors are actually doing now that the games have been played. Some of them are still on track to go all the way — some of them are already set for a return flight home.

To steal a phrase from the action sports universe, this is when teams start to go big or go home. As the U.S. gets ready to take on Germany, and as Neymar looks to do this all tournament long (that Tumblr, Here Comes The Ball, is fantastic, by the way; MS Paint recaps are the best), here’s how the U.S. looks to advance, as well as a quick catchup with the teams that were slated to do the best.