Copa América scenarios: How USMNT can reach the knockouts

The U.S. men’s national team has created a mess for itself with its 2-1 defeat to Panama on Thursday night in Atlanta. While it currently lies in second place in Copa América‘s Group C, and technically still controls its own destiny, it most likely needs a win over Uruguay plus some help from bottom dwellers Bolívia against Panama.

Here are the scenarios by which the U.S. will progress to the knockout rounds.

The U.S. will advance if it does better against Uruguay than Panama does against Bolívia. This can manifest itself in a few ways.

• The U.S. wins while Panama ties or loses.
• The U.S. wins or ties while Panama loses.

If the U.S. and Panama get the same result in their respective matches, then it will come down to goal differential. Currently the USMNT has a two-goal edge, plus-1 to minus-1.

• If the U.S. and Panama tie, the U.S. would go through based on the better goal differential.
• If the U.S and Panama both win, then there will be three teams on six points, and goal differential will factor in. The U.S. will need to make sure its margin of victory is enough that Panama doesn’t make up the difference.
• The only way the U.S. catches Uruguay is if it beats La Celeste by four goals. Anything less than that and Uruguay would be above the Americans on the goal differential tiebreaker.
• Panama’s margin of victory would need to be two goals better than the USMNT’s. If the two sides find themselves even on goal differential, the next tiebreaker is goals scored, followed by head-to-head involving the three teams.
• If the U.S and Panama both lose, the U.S. will need to avoid losing by three more goals than Panama. If Panama makes up the two-goal differential, then the two teams could find themselves even on goal differential. Bolívia would also factor into the equation because three teams would be on three points.

If two or more teams are tied on points, goal differential and goals scored, then the tiebreaker will be determined as follows:

• Greater number of points obtained in the group-stage matches among the teams in question.
• Greater goal difference in group-stage matches among the teams in question.
• Greater number of goals scored in the group-stage matches among the teams in question.

If the teams are still tied, the tiebreaker will go to:

• Fewer red cards.
• Fewer yellow cards.
• By the drawing of lots.