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How the USWNT can clinch spot in World Cup knockout stage

(Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team, for the first time in 13 straight World Cup games, did not win on Wednesday night. Instead, they tied the Netherlands 1-1, which makes the math for advancing a bit more complicated.

The last time the USWNT tied a game in the World Cup group stage (against Sweden in 2015), they went on to win the World Cup. But in order to do that this year in New Zealand, they need to advance — and that’s not as clear-cut as it was 24 hours ago.

The USWNT needs just a point to qualify, but ideally want to win their group. They’ve done so in seven of eight World Cup appearances, finishing second in 2011, and they’ve never before been knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage.

Here are all of the scenarios facing the USWNT in their final group-stage match against Portugal on Tuesday (3 a.m. ET, FOX).

How the USWNT wins Group E

  • If they beat Portugal, and the Netherlands don’t overtake them on goal differential. Currently, the USWNT holds a +3 goal differential, compared to the Netherlands at +1. The Netherlands would have to score two more goals in a win over Vietnam than the USWNT does in a win over Portugal.
  • If the USWNT draws Portugal, and Vietnam manages to draw the Netherlands by any scoreline. (Reminder: Draws cancel out goal differential, which is goals scored minus goals conceded).
  • If the USWNT draws Portugal, and Vietnam beats the Netherlands.

How the USWNT advances if they don’t win the group

  • If they win OR draw Portugal. With Portugal currently sitting on three points and the USWNT four, a draw would result in the USWNT having five points and Portugal four. Regardless of the Netherlands’ result, the USWNT would advance.
  • If they lose to Portugal, they can still advance if Vietnam wins or draws the Netherlands and the USWNT holds a favorable tiebreaker.
  • If they lose to Portugal, and the Netherlands also lose to Vietnam, then the USWNT will advance — unless they lose by more than 2+ goals and the Netherlands lose by a lesser number. Then, the goal differential will favor the Netherlands and they will advance alongside Portugal.

If the USWNT loses to Portugal, they will not advance if the Netherlands draw or win against Vietnam.