ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Almost everyone chose the U.S. men’s national team’s opening match against Wales as a must-win contest since the team discovered its World Cup schedule on April 1. Wales, which hadn’t made it to a World Cup since 1964, was thought to be the group’s most vulnerable opponent.
But it went beyond that; since the World Cup’s 32-team format was introduced in 1998, an astounding 84% of teams that had won their first group-stage match advanced to the knockout stage. What are the USMNT’s chances of progressing now that they could not secure that victory and had to settle for a draw against Wales on Monday to kick off the 2022 World Cup?
Before the competition, FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index gave the USMNT a 53% chance to advance to the World Cup knockout stage. Their chances have decreased to 45% since they drew with Wales in the tournament opener. Wales’ odds are worse according to FiveThirtyEight’s SPI, which puts them at 37%. They claim that the projection is a gauge of “total team strength,” with the attack and defense being the primary factors. As a result, the SPI has less faith in the Welsh team.
According to the SPI, England has a staggering 93% chance of moving on from the rest of Group B after their magnificent 6-2 victory over Iran on Monday. Iran still has only a 25% chance of winning. The USMNT’s chances of winning Group B have dropped after their draw with Wales, going from +10000 to +12500; according to FanDuel, oddsmakers still appear to think the Americans will most likely make it out of the group stage at -115.
The USMNT was -118 to advance before the Wales game, indicating that bookmakers’ confidence was high before the tournament began and is still high following Monday’s draw with Wales. The fact that England appears to be a significant favorite at -175 for their match on Friday is of immediate concern to Gregg Berhalter & Co. According to Caesars Sportsbook, any outcome other than a United States victory (+490) is more probable.
Wagering on the USMNT to go to the knockout phase is still not too hazardous, but after that, proceed with caution. The USMNT’s long odds of winning the World Cup have become longer as they went from 100-1 (or +10000) at Caesars to +12500.