While the Opening Ceremony for the Rio de Janeiro is not until Friday, the soccer tournament officially starts today. On the Olympic calendar this is officially labeled Olympic day -2. We here at Sounder at Heart will have a daily preview of all the soccer action during the Olympics along with a summary of what big event you might not want to miss each day. Consider this your daily open thread for the Olympics.
Women's soccer at the Olympics consists of 12 teams divided into three groups of four. The top two teams from each group and the two best third place teams will make the Quarter-Finals. The field is half the size of last year's 24 team Women's World Cup won by the United States via a 5-2 scoreline over Japan at BC Place in Vancouver.
The roster consists of 18 players, which is a big reduction from the World Cup roster of 23. In order to win the Gold Medal a team will play six games in 17 days spread out over the entire country of Brazil. The USWNT's road to Gold assuming they win their group will go: Belo Horizonte, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and the Gold Medal game in Rio de Janeiro. Squad rotation will be key to keeping players fresh, especially when you consider the travel.
The USWNT is the defending World Cup Champions, so you would think the roster is probably the same as the World Cup winning squad from 12 months ago. Well, that would be wrong. Gone are nine players from the World Cup roster, while Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn and 18 year old Mallory Pugh are additions to the team. The roster also consists of four alternates: Heather O'Reilly, Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnett and Samantha Mewis. A player can be replaced at any time due to injury. But the injury has to be certified by Olympic doctors, it can not be just a roster manipulation but a real injury. This might come into play as the Seattle Reign's Megan Rapinoe has been included on the roster. Rapinoe has been training since early July, but she has not played in a game since tearing her ACL on December 4th, 2015 and her availability is still unclear.
While the USMNT has struggled to find the next big thing for years, current title holder Christian Pulisic, the USWNT actually has quite a good track record in finding their next big thing. Right now and for the foreseeable future it will be Mallory Pugh who will be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old when the Olympics kick off. Pugh is expected to start and if she carries over her form from the pre-Olympic friendlies, look for Pugh to be a breakout star for the USWNT.
How to Watch, Soccer at the Olympics:
NBC Sports Network is going to be your go-to TV channel for all Olympic Soccer broadcasts from Brazil. In addition to the TV channel, the NBC Sports App will have all the games and NBCOlympics.com will also have streams. Games are going to be played concurrently during the entire soccer competition, so NBC Sports Network will not be able to show every game. Here is the full schedule: http://www.nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule/soccer
The lead commentator for NBC will again be a very familiar voice as Arlo White, who also did the London 2012 Soccer tournament for NBC, enjoys his second consecutive Olympic assignment.
Other Notable Olympic broadcasts today:
Only soccer is featured on Day -2. If you are really interested in Gymnastics, Men's Podium Training Subdivision 2 will be streamed here. It is just training (practice) but your author was looking very hard to find anything to put in this section.
France v Colombia is the second game in the USWNT group. Colombia were a surprise winner over France in World Cup 2015, with the USWNT expected to win Group G this game will go a long ways to determining who advances alongside the USWNT.