• Apart from the favorites, the teams with the best chance to spring World Cup upsets are Uruguay and Belgium. Uruguay hasn’t allowed a goal, and forwards Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani seem to be getting untracked. Let’s remember that Uruguay finished ahead of Argentina and Colombia in qualification for this tournament, an impressive achievement. Belgium, too, is undefeated, though its biggest mistake might have been defeating England in its group-stage match, thus earning a spot in the more difficult half of the bracket.
• It’s impossible to be certain where the U.S. would have ended up in the World Cup draw, had the team scored one more goal against Trinidad and Tobago and qualified for the tournament. That said, the seeding would have been where Tunisia’s was, which might have put the Americans in with England and Belgium. They probably would not have made the knockout round.
• Interim manager Dave Sarachan, who has coached the U.S. men’s national team since its qualification failure, will stay in charge of the team through the end of 2018. Sarachan, who is unlikely to be in the running for the full-time job, has mostly focused on giving young, unproven players a chance. The approach has given American fans hope for the future.