Wednesday, June 25, 2014

U.S. Odds Are 63% to Lose but 76% to Advance

If the U.S. national team plays Germany tomorrow in tiddlywinks it will be mandatory to chant U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A. whatever your personal feelings about the game of tiddlywinks. Soccer haters just keep it to yourself, you'll have the whole rest of the summer to hate soccer, trust me.

I've become a bit of a soccer fan, in no small part because my nephews play and one was on a 2012 state champion high school team in Oregon. It's kind of like watching good baseball, an offensive move starts to develop and then comes to nothing. But it's done without the commercials, so the games actually last for a decent amount of time instead of going on for 3 or 4 hours. Play the game with no long timeouts or commercial interruptions, what a great concept.

The last minute loss to Portugal, officially a tie but it felt like a loss as we were about to clinch, has created all sorts of complicated scenarios under which the U.S. either advances or gets eliminated in about 18 hours. Fortunately, the prognosticator Nate Silver breaks it down. He gives the U.S. a 63% chance of losing to Germany tomorrow, but nonetheless a 76% chance of being one of the two teams to advance out of Group G.

Recap of the ways we can advance and the odds of each:

USA beats Germany15%
USA ties Germany22%
USA loses, but Portugal ties Ghana18%
USA loses, but edges Portugal v. Ghana winner in goal counts21%

That last one gets complicated but suffice to say that the sports announcers will be happy to explain it. And really, you don't need to know, you just need to chant U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.

Yes, this could go on for a few more weeks until the final match on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro. But don't worry haters, Nate's crew only gives Team USA a 4% chance of getting that far. The home team is Brazil, and they're given a 47% chance to make it to the final, and a 37% chance to win the final. That leaves a 10% chance of Brazil going down to an inglorious defeat as host nation in the final game.

Those percentages will only grow for Brazil as the Word Cup tournament wears on, a rendezvous with destiny, either glory or a bullet to the back of the head ball in the back of the net.

Update 7/9/2014: I heard the news last night near the soccer fields at Danehy Park in Cambridge that Germany had knocked out Brazil in the semi-finals. Many are calling the 7-1 defeat embarrassing, but it's the 1 point losses that truly crush the spirit. There is something to knowing you have been well and truly beaten.

1 comment:

MuddyValley said...

I always thought football (American) was a pretty stupid sport. Soccer takes a lot more energy and skill. I do however cringe at those head shots, and wonder what damage they are doing.