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The World Cup, explained: How can the US move ahead now?

June 23, 2014 at 8:19 AM ET

Fans in Chicago react with anguish after Portugal scores the game-tying goal Sunday night.
TANNEN MAURY / EPA
Fans in Chicago react with anguish after Portugal scores the game-tying goal Sunday night.

Nooooooo! That was the cry heard 'round the country Sunday night after the U.S. men's soccer team tied after Portugal scored a goal with seconds left in the game. 

But never fear: U.S. dreams of a World Cup win are far from over. We'll play Germany on Thursday and though the team is a powerhouse, a win is still within reach.

Take it from Mia Hamm: "This team is gaining momentum with every game, and I think their best is ahead of them," the soccer legend said on TODAY Monday. 

"We're not out,'' soccer superfan Natalie Morales said. "It's not over til it's over. We're Americans. We like to do things the hard way, and we're going to make it happen." 

The Americans would have advanced if not for that game-tying goal. But the next round is still in sight, even though the U.S. is in the super-talented Group G, nicknamed the "Group of Death." Here's how: 

  • If the U.S. ties or beats Germany in its next game on Thursday at noon, the Americans advance to the knockout round. 
  • If the U.S. loses to Germany, there still is a chance to advance, depending on the outcome of the game between Ghana and Portugal. Root for Portugal, America: Ghana is in a better position to win a tie-breaker against the U.S. to advance, especially if Ghana beats Portugal by two or more goals. If the U.S. and Ghana have the same goal differential after three games, then the next tiebreaker comes down to which team scored the most total goals in its World Cup games. If they are still tied after that, the U.S. wins the next tiebreaker because it beat Ghana head to head. 
  • If the U.S. loses and Ghana and Portugal tie, the U.S. will advance. If Portugal wins, the U.S. most likely will win the tiebreaker against Portugal based on goal differential unless the U.S. loses badly to Germany. 

The Portugal tie wasn't easy to take, said U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones after the game, but the team's getting ready for Thursday. 

"A lot of guys were upset, but it's normal,'' said Jones, who scored to tie the game 1-1 on Sunday, on TODAY Monday. "When you have 30 seconds to go and you're close to being in the next round, it's not easy to take, but it's important now that we step on and try to push (to the next round)."

Watch: Soccer star Jermaine Jones on the Germany game 

Jones was born in Germany, as his father was a soldier stationed there and his mother is German. The head coach of the U.S. men's team, Jurgen Klinsmann, was a star striker for Germany who helped win the World Cup in 1990. 

"We know they are a good team,'' Jones said. "We have to have respect for this team, but we don't have to be scared." 

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+


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