Andre Penner/Associated Press
The United States women’s national team faces a steep test to get to the semifinal round of the Olympic Games women’s soccer tournament.
The USWNT took four points from three group-stage games to finish in second place and land a quarterfinal matchup with the Netherlands.
Two years ago, the USWNT and Netherlands contested the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, which was won by the Americans. For the USWNT to complete the World Cup-Olympics double, it must defeat the highest-scoring team from the group phase.
The other three quarterfinals are blockbuster matchups as well, but most of the focus will be on Friday morning’s World Cup final rematch.
Women’s Olympic Soccer Quarterfinal Schedule
Friday, July 30
Canada vs. Brazil (4 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Great Britain vs. Australia (5 a.m. ET, NBC Universo)
Sweden vs. Japan (6 a.m. ET)
United States vs. Netherlands (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Odds To Win Tournament
United States: +190 (bet $100 to win $190)
Great Britain: +500
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Netherlands Ends USWNT’s Run in Japan
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The USWNT is still viewed as the gold-medal favorite, but if you watched it play in the group stage, that would not have been your conclusion.
The Americans have the best collection of talent in the world, but they have not put everything together in Japan.
Vlatko Andonovski’s side failed to score in two matches. All six of its goals came against New Zealand in the second Group G contest. Meanwhile, the Netherlands could not stop scoring against any foe they faced in Group F.
Golden Boot leader Vivianne Miedema scored more goals on her own than the USWNT had over three contests. The Arsenal forward took her tally to eight with a brace in the 8-2 win over China, during which the Dutch scored five times in the first 26 minutes of the second half.
The Netherlands’ ability to find the back of the net on a consistent basis should hurt the U.S. back line, which looked vulnerable in the 3-0 loss to Sweden. Even in the 6-1 win over New Zealand, a defensive lapse in concentration led to the Football Ferns’ lone goal.
If the Netherlands put the U.S. defense under constant pressure, like Sweden did, they should find a way past the reigning World Cup champion.
If the game turns into a high-scoring affair, the Dutch should keep pace with Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Co. since they have a handful of talented attackers surrounding Miedema. Lieke Martens and Lineth Beerensteyn both bagged braces versus China.
The Americans have a path to victory if they improve their defending and create advantages in the final third, but a complete performance escaped them in the group stage. A second straight Olympic quarterfinal exit could be in the cards.
Great Britain Works Past Australia
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Team GB did not attract a ton of the spotlight in group play with the USWNT struggling a bit and Group F being packed with goals.
But Great Britain won Group E with seven points and conceded a single goal—to Canada, which finished second.
Ellen White is one of the best forwards in the world, and she showed as much by producing three goals in the first two contests.
Although the team competes under the Great Britain name, a majority of the players on the roster are English. Most of the group was around for the run to the Women’s World Cup semifinals in 2019. England fell 2-1 to the USWNT in that match. White, Lucy Bronze, Nikita Parris and Carly Telford were among the players on the Team GB roster who featured in that semifinal contest.
The experience from two years ago should benefit Team GB as it looks to capture a medal in Tokyo.
Australia will not be an easy foe to get past, especially with Sam Kerr roaming the final third, but the British defenders should not be fazed. Kerr has played for Chelsea since November 2019, and a majority of the Team GB squad plays domestic soccer with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The familiarity with Kerr’s movements in and around the box should benefit the Brits throughout the 90 minutes.
If Team GB taps into its experience Friday, it should land a semifinal matchup with Sweden and Japan, where a win would guarantee a medal.
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