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Report: USMNT won’t make it out of group stage, says statistical analysis

Mix Diskerud, Jozy Altidore

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The biggest question that the U.S. Men’s National Team faces this summer is whether it can make it out of the group stage at the World Cup.

While some might argue the U.S. will find a way to advance, American investment banking firm Goldman Sachs thinks otherwise. According to an analysis of the 2014 World Cup, economists at Goldman Sachs predict the USA will fail to make it out of the group stage.

The firm gave the USMNT a 41 percent chance of making it to the knockout stages, and predicted a pair of 1-1 draws with Ghana and Portugal and a 2-1 loss to Germany in the final match. Goldman Sachs predicts that the U.S. will finish tied for last in the group with Ghana, which is predicted to have the same exact score lines. Germany and Portugal are expected to finish in first and second, respectively.

Goldman Sachs also gave the U.S. a 22.4 percent chance of making the quarterfinals, an 8.7 percent chance of making the semifinals, a 2.2 percent chance of making it to the final, and a .5 percent chance of winning the World Cup.

According to the study, Germany has an 85 percent chance of making it out of the group, Portugal has a 54.1 percent chance, and Ghana has just a 19.9 chance of making it to the knockout stages.

While those odds don’t seem great, even the favorite to win the whole tournament, Brazil, only has a 48.5 percent chance to win the title. However, that number is much higher than the next contenders Argentina (14.1 percent chance), Germany (11.4 percent chance), Spain (9.8 percent chance), and the Netherlands (5.6 percent chance).

Goldman Sachs predicted that Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and Spain would be the four semifinalists, with Brazil defeating Argentina, 3-1, in the final to win the World Cup and purge the memory of the Maracanzo, the loss in the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay.

The predictions are based on a regression analysis that used more than 14,000 international competitive games (no friendlies) to determine coefficient estimates in the model.

Goldman Sachs also used the less-known ELO Rankings as a variable, and considered goals scored, goals conceded, whether matches were played at home or away, on a home continent, and whether they took place in a World Cup or just in qualification matches.

Goldman Sachs then ran the variables through a simulator with more than 100,000 probabilities. The study’s authors did make clear that the analysis is completely statistical, and doesn’t take into account a team losing its top player to injury or, in the USMNT’s case, having a key player left off the 23-man roster.


What do you think of this study? Think the USMNT’s chances are better than the statistics show? What variables do you think can give the USMNT a better chance in Brazil?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. GS ought to be spending more time looking at their portfolios and investments rather than dabbling in soccer. 160.74-0.45 (-0.28%) not good today…and oh yea the all tournament team they select… Neuer in goal? GTFO here GS…

  2. No noteworthy accomplishment is ever easy. I think we are the least talented team in the group, but the great thing is that we can still advance if we just play well. It’s the reason we love it.


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