Skip to content

Analyzing the U.S. draw for the London Olympic tournament

Apr 24, 2012, 5:45 PM EDT

London 2012

The draw for the women’s soccer tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics was conducted early Tuesday. Here’s the complete field:

Group A

  • Great Britain
  • New Zealand
  • Cameroon
  • Brazil

Group B

  • USA
  • France
  • Colombia
  • North Korea

Group C

  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • South Africa

Now for what it means:

Charting new territory: The United States plays its first two group matches against France and Colombia in Glasgow at famed Hampden Park. They will then round out the group stage in Manchester at Old Trafford.  But for the USWNT, the British Isles is still a land that is relatively unknown. The team staged a pre-World Cup training camp in Scotland last spring, but has never played a competitive match in the country. The side played its first ever match on British soil last year against England and earned a disappointing 2-1 loss. Pia Sundhage’s team will hope for a better result this time.

Familiar opponents…to a point: The U.S. faced each group opponent at various stages in the World Cup last summer, collecting wins against all three. Still, this will mark the first time the team has faced any of its group foes in the Olympics. If past results are anything to go by, the U.S. should fare well in group play for the 2012 Women’s Olympic Tournament. The USWNT has never lost to any of its Group B competitors. The combined record against all three teams stands at 17-0-2 with 51 goals scored and 10 conceded.

Also, it also wouldn’t be a proper international tournament without a USWNT/North Korea group stage duel. The two sides have been drawn together in the same group in the last four Women’s World Cups. Don’t you love it when tradition is upheld?

Can’t snooze on Les Bleues: One gets the sense the U.S.’s commanding 12-0-1 all-time record against France will hold little significance when the two face off in Group B’s opening match. France are undeniably the rising stars of international women’s soccer. Bruno Bini’s stylish side captured hearts at the World Cup last summer before falling to the U.S. in the semi-finals. France played the most progressive soccer of the tournament and were awarded with an automatic Olympic berth by virtue of their fourth-place finish. Victory in the annual Cyprus Cup last month suggests Les Bleues’ sizzling form hasn’t cooled down. The U.S. were famously downed by Norway in their first match of the 2008 Olympics and later went on to win the tournament. Will a similar scenario pan out this time?

New faces in the crowd: This is probably the thousandth bullet point on the “signs international women’s soccer is growing” list. In previous Olympic tournaments, berths for the CONMEBOL and CAF regions were generally limited to one, if any at all. The 2012 Olympics will see two berths for each federation and thus, the tournament debuts of three countries. Group B’s Colombia made their first appearance in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer and will use this as another opportunity to nurture its young squad. Nigeria has been Africa’s only representative in the women’s tournament. Up to now, at least. South Africa and Cameroon each narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification in late 2010, but will now have the chance to compete for Olympic glory.

Grand stage for a new generation: This tournament could be a swan song of sorts for several USWNT stalwarts entering the twilights of their careers. The Olympics has been a proving ground for emerging talents eager to earn their keeps. Lauren Cheney, Amy Rodriguez, and Tobin Heath were in their very early 20’s when they each got their respective first tastes of major tournament soccer at the 2008 Olympics. Each has since developed at different rates, but all remain integral parts of the senior fold. Alex Morgan, 22, and Sydney Leroux, 21, will likely lead the USWNT’s front line for the foreseeable future. 23 year-old attacker-turned-defender Kelley O’Hara has seemingly overcome the learning curve and had two very serviceable performances in the Kirin Cup Challenge earlier this month. 24 year-old Whitney Engen is in line to inherit a starting job in the backline once a vacancy arises. A slender 20-player roster will make competition for roster spots particularly fierce. For many of these players, the future is now.

The end of an era?: In early 2008 Pia Sundhage inherited a Women’s National Team program in transition and slight disarray. The USWNT had been eliminated from the 2007 Women’s World Cup in humiliating fashion complete with a 4-0 meltdown versus Brazil, that goalkeeper controversy, and the dismissal of head coach Greg Ryan. Nine months later, Sundhage galvanized the squad to its third Olympic gold medal. The thrilling extra time victory over arch rivals Brazil led to a contract extension. Sundhage’s contract reportedly runs through this summer’s Olympics.  The former Swedish international hasn’t been bashful about her ambitions to return to her native country. Another gold medal will undoubtedly cement Sundhage’s legacy as one of the most successful, effective coaches in the program’s history. Talk about going out on top.

Latest Posts
  1. FIFA votes to eliminate third-party ownership

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Blatter AP

    Sepp Blatter confirmed FIFA voted strongly to eliminate third-party ownership in all professional settings, with a transitional period of a few years to be instituted immediately.

  2. WATCH: Men In Blazers recap derby weekend, visit with Brandon McCarthy

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Men in Blazers Brandon McCarthy

    The Men discussed all things Premier League on this week’s episode, including Phil Jagielka, Wayne Rooney, and a Peter Crouch chicken dance.

  3. Miguel Herrera pumps up Mexico’s crop of youngsters

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    Herrera AP

    With plenty of tournament success, the Mexican youth is turning the head of the senior team’s manager.

  4. Alan Pardew expects to have “serious conversations” with Mike Ashley

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Pardew Getty Images

    Things surrounding Newcastle’s managerial position have become increasingly untenable.

  5. Report: PSG’s under-fire Blanc could face axe without win vs Barcelona

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Blanc Getty Images

    If PSG fail to make serious noise against top Champions League clubs, Laurent Blanc could be on his way out of Paris.

  6. MLS salaries released, showing Kaka nets MLS-record $7.1 million

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Kaka Getty Images

    Making $400,000 more than anyone else in the league, Kaka is set to lead Orlando City into MLS with a colossal paycheck.

  7. Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan says he hopes to invest in MLS

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT

    Tan Getty Images

    With MLS movement at a high, the controversial Malaysian expressed his wishes to enter the US realm

  8. Olivier Giroud signs new Arsenal deal through 2018

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:51 PM EDT

    Giroud Getty Images

    He’s out with a broken tibia, but Giroud still remains vital to Arsenal’s long-term success.

  9. Report: Chivas USA to suspend operations for at least 2 years

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Chivas logo

    According to an ESPN report, Chivas will take at least a 2-year break to allow for a rebrand to occur and a new stadium to be built.

  10. Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle: Crouch’s header sinks Newcastle, Pardew deeper (video)

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    Crouch Getty Images

    Peter Crouch’s early header put Stoke up early as Alan Pardew’s job security took another hit.

  11. Adnan Januzaj scores unbelievable free kick for Manchester United U-21’s

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

    Januzaj Getty Images

    He hasn’t managed to pick out a start for the Red Devils’ senior side, but getting minutes for the U-21’s, he showed off his bright talents.

  12. Christian Benteke set to make Villa return after nearly six-month absence

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:51 PM EDT

    Benteke Getty Images

    After playing over an hour for the U-21 team this weekend, Paul Lambert will have Benteke available for selection against Manchester City.

  13. Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey out injured for a month

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners lose star midfielder for a month after hamstring injury.

  14. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Newcastle United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    All eyes on Pardew. Watch Stoke host Newcastle, right here.

  15. Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Newcastle

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Will Stoke be able to extract revenge after their 5-1 loss to Newcastle on Boxing Day? Getty Images

    Watch Stoke vs. Newcastle live on Monday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  16. Manchester United to play overseas friendlies during the regular season?

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT

    Alexander Buttner, Gareth Bale AP

    Will United head back to the USA, the Middle East or elsewhere if they schedule friendlies during the current season?

  17. Premier League Playback: Can Chelsea stay unbeaten throughout 2014-15?

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the PL during Week 6.

  18. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney apologizes for red card

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    _77863481_rooney_red_getty Getty Images

    Rooney: “I saw the West Ham player making a counter-attack and I tried to break-up the play but I just misjudged it. I apologized to the lads.”

  19. Hertha Berlin giving up on US defender John Brooks?

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Germany Bundesliga Soccer AP

    After up and down start to the season, Brooks has been sent to the reserves.

Featured video

Week 6: Premier League recap