The group stage of the Olympics is behind us and we are down to eight quarterfinalists (Goodbye New Zealand, South Africa, Colombia and Zimbabwe) who will all play their elimination quarterfinal today. Today's winners will have a 3 out of 4 chance to win a medal while today's losers will just have memories of being in Brazil.
The day starts with a grudge match between Sweden and the USWNT. Sweden's Pia Sundhage is the reigning Olympic Gold Medal manager, which she won with the USA in London. Sundhage would like nothing more than to knock out her former team while leading her home country. Let's preview each game separately below along with their event information.
How to Watch, Soccer at the Olympics:
The excellent commentary team of Arlo White and Kate Markgraf on the call.
After surviving a draw in Manaus against Colombia to win Group G the USWNT are rewarded by playing against a very dangerous team in Sweden. Manaus saw an uncharacteristically bad game from Goalkeeper Hope Solo, she was surely responsible for the first goal and will likely admit she would have liked to do better with the late equalizer. Look for Solo to bounce back and be her usual reliable self.
The Seattle Reign's Megan Rapinoe started against Colombia in her first game action since tearing an ACL in December. Rapinoe only played the first 32 minutes of the game, making way for Mallory Pugh late in the first half. Rapinoe looked decent but not sharp in her return to the field, earning a yellow card on the foul that led to the first Colombia goal.
Julie Johnston has missed the last two games with an injury, expect her to be back in the lineup partnering Becky Sauerbrunn in central defense. The other lineup decisions come down to who to play on the flanks. Tobin Heath was very good in the first two games and sat out the Colombia game. Look for her to slot back in the starting lineup and likely Mallory Pugh to partner Heath on the other wing with Crystal Dunn going back to the super sub role.
In the Brazil 2014 World Cup, many teams experienced a "Manaus Hangover" having lost the game immediately following their game in Manaus. The stadium in Manaus is as close to Rio de Janeiro as New York City is to Albuquerque, New Mexico. With only two days off between games, it is good that manager Jill Ellis was able to rotate players against Colombia, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd each played a half in Manaus.
The quality of the field is going to be a talking point in this game. This is the 9th game held on the field and it looks to be breaking down.
China v Germany
Location: Fonte Nova Arena, Salvador
Streaming: Women's Soccer Quarterfinal 2
Germany came into the Olympics as the #2 ranked team in the world but they struggled in the group stage needing a late goal to tie Australia 2-2 and then losing their final game 2-1 against Canada. They tied Australia on 4 points but only finished second on goal differential.
China finished second in their group after losing the opener to host Brazil 3-0 before beating South Africa 2-0 and playing out a mutually beneficial 0-0 draw with Sweden in the final group match.
The winner of this match plays the winner of Canada v France played next.
Canada v France
Friday, 3 PM
Location: Corinthians Arena, Sao Paulo
Streaming: Women's Soccer Quarterfinal 3
A matchup good enough to be a final or at least a semi-final sees the only team out of 28 teams that qualified for the Olympics (men and women) to finish the group stage on 9 points in Canada having to play the 3rd ranked team in the world in the quarterfinals.
Canada looked like the team we expected to show up in last year's World Cup, played in Canada, in the group stages easily handling a good Australia team 2-0 in the opener, dispatching Zimbabwe 3-1 and beating the world #2 Germany 2-1 in the final group game. Canada and the Houston Dash's Janine Beckie is joint top scorer in the Olympics, tied with Germany's Melanie Behringer who plays her club ball for Bayern Munich.
France feel unlucky to have lost 1-0 to the USWNT and want nothing more than to knock out the other Concacaf representative en route to a possible rematch with the USWNT in the final.
Brazil v Australia
Friday, 6 PM
Location: Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Streaming: Women's Soccer Quarterfinal 4
Tough draw for the hosts who get a frisky Australia team in their first knockout match. So far Marta and company have been very good as the host team, in contrast to the Men's side that needed the final group match to finally score a goal. Brazil opened with a 3-0 win over China before putting the hurt to Sweden 5-1 in their second game and then with first place in the group secured they rested some players and played a listless 0-0 draw against South Africa in Manaus in their final game. Marta came on a halftime but was unable to spark a late goal in the oppressive Amazonian heat.
Australia will look to make the Manaus Hangover come true and upset the home team after playing well in the group stage, most notably tying world #2 Germany 2-2 in their second game before thumping Zimbabwe 6-1 in the final game.
The winner of this match plays the winner of USA v Sweden.
Other Notable Olympic Broadcasts Today:
Water Polo, Men: USA v Montenegro
7:40 AM, USA Network
Basketball, Women: USA v Canada
11:30 AM, NBCSN
2 PM, CNBC
NBC Primetime Broadcast features Katie Ledecky looking to obliterate the field in the 800M final, she already set a world record in the semi-final yesterday. Track and Field makes its first appearance in Rio.
7 PM, NBC