One simple question looms over today's United States-Germany Group G game: With both teams sitting on four points and Portugal and Ghana on one, why don't the Americans and Germans play at a crawl and produce a tie that would see both advance to the knockout stage?
First, the winner of this group avoids the Group H winner in the round of 16. That's likely to be young, highly regarded Belgium. And though the Belgians have not hit top form in this tournament, they're clearly better than whoever winds up second (Russia, South Korea or Algeria). Thus, the Group G winner figures to have an easier matchup.
Also, the Americans will get a psychological boost going forward if they knock off one of the world's soccer powers.
So why can't the Germans sit back and play for 0-0? Because they must know the United States has a habit of scoring late. The Americans have scored after the 80th minute in both World Cup games, including the winner against Ghana.
During qualifying, three late U.S. goals were winners and one, at Panama, came deep in stoppage time just seconds after the Americans tied it.
If today's game is tied in, say, the 88th minute and the Americans strike, the Germans will have little time left to earn a tie. And a loss might bring in tiebreaker scenarios for second place — though Ghana and, especially, Portugal are extraordinarily unlikely to make up the goal differential against Germany.