by Adam Dreyfuss
Unlike the men’s section of the Olympics, the women’s Olympic soccer tournament is regarded as a serious international tournament where the best players play.
The Olympics offer great insight as to how teams have progressed or regressed since last year’s World Cup. Out of the 12 teams in this year’s Olympics, only two of them did not participate in last year’s World Cup- South Africa and Zimbabwe. For the 10 that did, this tournament could shape up to be one giant grudge match for last year’s clashes.
After last summer dominating performance, nobody enters this tournament with a bigger target than the USA. The Americans return some of their most pivotal players from last year’s triumph in Hope Solo, Kelley O’Hara, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe.
This experience as well as general talent is one reason why the USA are labeled as the tournament favorites. The pressure on the Americans will be massive after last year’s victory, but especially after the men’s performances in the past two summers. The USA will be missing some big names from last year’s squad though, as legend Abby Wambach retired and star forward Sydney Leroux is out due to pregnancy.
These Olympics could be the end of the US women’s “golden era” as 13 of the 18 members of the Olympic team are 27 or older, meaning that they are no longer going to be in their prime come the next World Cup and Olympics. The pressure is on for the US women’s team, but like last summer they should thrive under it.
Last summer, the French topped their group and made it past South Korea in the first knockout round. After a tightly contested match with Germany in the quarter-finals, they were knocked out.
They return their highest goalscorers from last tournament: Eugenie Le Sommer, and Marie Laure Delie. Laure Delie should look to be one of the leaders for this French team as she comes in with 90 appearances and 61 goals for France.
Another reason why France should have a good summer was their defense last summer. They only conceded three goals in five matches, while they scored a total of 10 goals. Without the pressure on them, France should be able to push on and do well in Rio this summer.
Player to Watch
Marta is one of the most prolific strikers in soccer history.
Since 2002 she has made 101 appearances for the Brazil team, where she has found the back of the net 100 times. Just for comparison her male counterparts Pele and Ronaldo, who are regarded as Brazilian legends, have both made less appearances for the Brazil team and have had less of a prolific record.
At major tournaments, Marta has appeared 30 times for A Seleção and scored a whopping 22 times. Although her club career has started to diminish over the years, the still is a prolific goalscorer for Brazil, and should have a great summer in her homeland.
I believe that the United States will replicate their success from last summer. The have the most talented squad and bring back a lot of experience from the past two World Cups. With the pressure on for The Yanks, it will be difficult, but coach Jill Ellis and captain Carli Lloyd should lead a successful campaign in Rio.