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Women’s World Cup: Here’s what the United States needs to do to advance

The United States had some work to do on Tuesday to advance to the round of 16 at the Women's World Cup after last week's stalemate with the Netherlands.

The Americans are still in charge of their destiny and the top spot in Group E. The importance of their Tuesday match against Portugal (7 p.m. in Auckland, or 3 a.m. Eastern) has increased significantly.

With a victory or a tie, the United States can move on. The Netherlands is the same way. (Let's ignore, for the moment, the extremely remote prospect that the U.S. could lose and still advance if the Netherlands also loses.) Portugal can still advance, but only if they defeat the Americans. Vietnam? It has already been done away with.

However, for the United States, the goal is not just to advance. Given the importance of first vs. second place, the Americans want to win the group. The Group E winner would play Italy, which is currently in second position in Group G. The winner of Group G, currently Sweden, the third-ranked team in the world, will be drawn by the Group E runner-up.

Because goal difference would serve as the first tiebreaker in the event of a tie with the Netherlands, it is just as vital for the U.S. to win on Tuesday. The United States has a modest advantage over the Netherlands, which is at plus-1, as it is at plus-3 after scoring four goals and allowing only one.

In a match that will take place concurrently with the United States vs. Portugal, the Dutch will be aiming to score a lot against Vietnam. The coaching staff of the United States will need to keep an eye on the scoreboard in order to follow that score in real time and alter as necessary to stay on top of goals.

Regarding tactics for staying up with the other game, U.S. Coach Vlatko Andonovski noted, "We have thought a lot about it. And one thing is for certain: we have a job to do, which is to look after our game in the first place.