CHICAGO (April 20, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was drawn into Group G at the 2008 Olympic Games and will face Norway, Japan and New Zealand in first round play.
The Final Draw took place on the evening of April 20 in Beijing, China, placing the 12 teams in the Olympic women’s soccer competition into three groups for four teams each. The USA received a top seed in the tournament along with host China, which will head Group E, and Germany, which will head Group F.
Group E features China, Sweden, Canada and Argentina while Group F features Germany, North Korea, Brazil and Nigeria.
The USA will open the Olympics on Aug. 6 against Norway in Qinhuangdao at the Olympic Center Stadium in a match that will kick-off at 7:45 p.m. (7:45 a.m. ET). The USA will then get two days of rest before facing Japan on Aug. 9 in Qinhuangdao in a match that kicks off at 5 p.m. local (5 a.m. ET) before finishing group play on Aug. 12 against New Zealand in Shenyang at the 60,000-seat Olympic Center Stadium in a match that kicks off at 7:45 p.m. local (7:45 a.m. ET). The stadium in Qinhuangdao holds just under 34,000 fans.
Qinhuangdao is a port city on the Yellow Sea in the Hebei province, about 200 miles northeast of Beijing city, while Shenyang is in the Liaoning province in northeast China, about 400 miles from Beijing.
In the 12-team women’s tournament, the top two teams in each of the three groups plus the two best third-place teams after the completion of first-round play will advance to the quarterfinals.
Due to the make-up of the draw, the USA will have to advance to the final four in order to actually play a match in Beijing as the bronze and gold medal games will both be contested at Workers’ Stadium.
The USA and Norway have a long history of dramatic matches in the Olympics. The USA defeated Norway in sudden death overtime at the 1996 Olympic semifinal in Athens, Ga., as well as in the first round of the 2000 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. The Norwegians rebounded to win the gold medal game in Sydney with a “golden goal.” The USA also played Norway in the 1991, 1995 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments.
The USA played Japan in the quarterfinal of the 2004 Olympics in Thessaloniki, Greece, winning 2-1, and also faced the Japanese in the 1991 and 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments.
The USA and New Zealand have never met in a FIFA world championship before and this will mark the USA’s third-ever meeting with a country from Oceania in a world championship after playing Australia (which is now a member of the Asian Confederation) in the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2004 Olympics.
This will be the fourth Olympic soccer competition for women. The USA has won two gold medals (Atlanta ’96 and Athens ’04) and one silver medal (Sydney ’00) in previous Olympic tournaments.