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Dave Ross

How to win by losing

By now you've heard the news, team USA lost to Germany, 1-0, but by the "quirky" calculus of World Cup competition, it's still in the running. (AP Photo)

By now you’ve heard the news, team USA lost to Germany, 1-0, but by the “quirky” calculus of World Cup competition, it’s still in the running.

The scoring for soccer – quirky? Not at all. It’s as simple as the metric system.

Are you ready?

Among the four teams in our so called group of death, the U.S. ended up tied for second place with Portugal. We each had one win, one loss and a tie. So to break the tie, you simply look at the goal differential. Over the three games, the U.S. scored four goals total, you subtract that from the four goals scored against us, net differential of zero.

Portugal also scored four goals total, but because Germany routed them 4-0 in their first game, they ended up with seven goals scored against them for a goal differential of -3, so they’re out and we’re in.

Soccer imitates life – you don’t always have to beat the competition to get ahead. Sometimes you just have to be a little less bad.

And now that you understand that – you’re ready to understand the offside rule, courtesy of

“A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.”

Right, but don’t forget:

“The offside rule only applies when you’re on the offensive half of the field.”

Of course.

“And you can’t be offsides on a throw-in.”


“And the last two defenders don’t have to be a defender and a goalkeeper, it can just be two defenders.


“And if you’re in an offside position but you’re not in the play then that’s perfectly legal.”


So now, you understand the scoring system and the offside rule.

For some reason I feel like biting somebody.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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