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The U.S. advanced in the World Cup! Now what?

Thursday - 6/26/2014, 5:59pm  ET

US Advance (Getty)
The U.S. advanced to the knockout stage at the World Cup despite a loss to Germany. (Getty Images Sport/Michael Steele)

WASHINGTON -- If you thought ties were un-American, Thursday's 1-0 defeat by the U.S. Men's National Team to Germany probably brought up some pretty mixed feelings. Yes, they lost. But thanks to the goal differential tiebreaking rules in the World Cup, their overall performance was good enough to advance them to the next round.

For those who are still trying to make sense of it all, here is the basic rundown of why the math broke the Americans' way.

The U.S. earned four points out of Group G with a win over Ghana (3) and a draw of Portugal (1).

Portugal also earned four points out of Group G with a win over Ghana (3) and a draw of the U.S. (1).

The first tiebreaker under this scenario is goal differential for the tournament. The U.S. beat Ghana 2-1, drew with Portugal 2-2 and lost to Germany 1-0 for a net differential of 0.

Portugal lost to Germany 4-0, drew the U.S. 2-2, and beat Ghana 2-1 for a net differential of -3.

Therefore, the Americans are on to the round of 16.

But now what?

You've spent the past two weeks finding reasons to hate Germany, Ghana and Portugal. That's all in the past now. Time to look ahead to the future.

The U.S. will square off with Belgium in the round of 16 Tuesday. Lest you expect this game to be a cakewalk, be mindful that the Belgians are ranked 11th in the world, two spots ahead of the U.S. They have also won all three of their World Cup games, beating Algeria 2-1, and both Russia and South Korea by 1-0 counts.

If you are a casual fan and have just gotten acclimated to the structure of the game (45 minutes per half plus stoppage time), get ready to readjust. From here on out, there are no more ties.

If the score remains level through 90 minutes, the two sides play two 15-minute overtime periods with a short break in between. There is no sudden death -- the game will continue until the end of extra time, no matter the score.

If, at that point, the game is still tied, the game will move to a shootout. Five players from each side get a penalty shot in alternating order. At the end of the five, whichever team has more scores wins. If the penalty count is also tied, each side will continue to alternate shots until one side scores and the other does not to determine a winner.

Now you know the road ahead. Take a deep breath, hit the reset button and rid your house of all blonde beer and chocolate before July 1.

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