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. WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 34

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT

    Live Extra

    Where and how to watch every single PL game live online or via the app during Week 34.

  2. Watch Live: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:07 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    USMNT winger/back DeAndre Yedlin is on the bench for Spurs.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-1 FC Dallas

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT

    Colorado Rapids vs Columbus Crew Colorado Rapids vs Columbus Crew

    FC Dallas took the lead into halftime, but a second half red card to Blas Perez let Colorado sneak back for a point.

  4. Tony Pulis: I’m more than just an escape artist

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Tony Pulis is known for turning around struggling clubs, but the West Brom manager says he is more than just a last resort.

  5. MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-0 New York City FC

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT

    Toronto FC v Chicago Fire Getty Images

    David Accam’s first MLS goal was enough for Chicago to down a NYCFC side that played more than 60 minutes a man down.

  6. Americans Abroad preview: Howard and Guzan face Manchester opposition

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    Everton v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard takes on his former club Manchester United, while Brad Guzan looks to keep Manchester City off the scoresheet.

  7. Tottenham looking to sell Adebayor at season’s end

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-FA CUP-TOTTENHAM-LEICESTER Getty Images

    Finding a club to pay his $150,000 per week wages is the only problem for Spurs.

  8. Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool

    Apr 24, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final

    The Baggies must defend The Hawthorns as Liverpool is barely clinging on to top-four dreams.

  9. Hull City players face pay cuts up to 50-percent if relegated

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Swansea City v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Clinging onto safety in the Premier League, Hull City players now have some added incentive to avoid the drop.

  10. Van Gaal: Ryan Giggs will be the next manager at Manchester United

    Apr 24, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Manchester United Training and Press Conference Manchester United Training and Press Conference

    Still in his first season as manager at Old Trafford, LVG has already endorsed his top assistant to be the next in line.

  11. Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Can Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa continue their climb up the table at the Etihad?

  12. SportsWorld: Jose Fonte talks playing with Ronaldo, shares thoughts on MLS

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright sat down with the Southampton defender to see how the Saints’ skipper has evolved into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.

  13. VIDEO: PST Extra asks if Liverpool, Manchester City should get new managers

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Manchester City Getty Images

    In the latest PST Extra we take a quick look at why whispers about managers losing their jobs at Liverpool, Man City are getting louder.

  14. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Time for the underdogs to shine

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the scores in the PL this weekend.

  15. Could Tottenham share their stadium with an NFL team? Here’s how it will work

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    SPURSSTADIUM1

    Spurs are reportedly in talks with the NFL about housing a franchise in their new stadium.

  16. VIDEO: PST Extra picks Premier League’s Best XI from 2014-15 season. Agree?

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    What do you think of these 11 players getting Team of the Year honors?

  17. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 34

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 34.

  18. Jose Mourinho: “Arsene Wenger is not my rival” ahead of Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    WengerMourinho Getty Images

    Mourinho stirs the pot before huge clash with Arsenal on Sunday.

  19. Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Saints get revenge on Pochettino as he returns to St Mary’s? Watch live, Saturday, 7:45 a.m ET.

  20. Injury update on Chelsea’s Diego Costa. Is he fit for London derby vs. Arsenal?

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho has delivered an update on Costa’s progress ahead of Sunday’s big game.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?