The U.S. Women’s National Team continues its quest for gold at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil with its quarterfinal match against Sweden on Friday, Aug. 12 at Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia. Here are five things to know about the #USWNT heading into the quarterfinal match, which kicks off at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBC Universo and NBCOlympics.com.
Road to Rio
After winning the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the number-one ranked U.S. WNT shifted its focus to the 2016 Olympics in hopes of becoming the first nation to win both tournaments in consecutive years. The USA began 2016 with a 5-0 win in a friendly against Ireland, followed by first place finishes in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February and the inaugural SheBelieves Cup in March.
The U.S. has compiled a 16-0-2 record in 2016, earning 15 shutouts while allowing just six goals, three of which came against Japan on June 2. Alex Morgan leads the team with 12 goals this year, followed by Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn, each with 11. Goalkeeper Hope Solo is 14-0-2 with 12 shutouts, including the 100th of her career, earned against South Africa on July 9 in Chicago.
For the Olympics, the WNT will wear new home kits featuring the letters “USA” on the chest in place of the crest to align with the Olympic tournament’s uniform regulations.
Blend of Talent
The USA roster is made up of 18 players, including two goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and four forwards, but numerous players on the roster can and have played multiple positions. Lloyd, Solo and winger Tobin Heath join a list of 12 other U.S. players to be named to three Olympic rosters. Of the 18 players, 11 are on an Olympic Team for the first time.
Four players (Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long and Mallory Pugh) are the only players who were not on the 2015 Women’s World Cup-winning side. Pugh is the youngest player on the team at 18 years, 3 months and 14 days old, while Solo is the oldest at 35 years and 4 days old.
The roster has a combined 81 Olympic appearances and 17 goals – all scored by Lloyd (8), Morgan (5), Dunn (1), Pugh (1) and Megan Rapinoe (2), who made a remarkable recovery to make the team after tearing her ACL in December of 2015.
Golden Olympic History
The U.S. is by far the most successful in Olympic women’s soccer history, having won four gold medals and one silver in the five tournaments that have been held so far. The USA is 25-2-4 all-time in the Olympics, having only lost in the gold medal game in 2000, and the opening match of the 2008 tournament, both to Norway.
On Monday, Aug. 1, the WNT celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first gold medal which came at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta -- the first Olympic Games in which women’s soccer was contested. The U.S. has won a record 11 consecutive games in the Olympic Football Tournament.
Though the 18 players named to the Olympic Team are all business on the field, the team has built a reputation for being relatable, entertaining and honest off the field. Case in point, the WNT sat down to share each of their individual stories with the fans leading up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
This year, U.S. Soccer took things to the next level by creating WNT Animated, Presented by Ritz, a series featuring fun, inspirational and educational animated stories from the 18 personalities that make up the team, plus a bonus episode featuring U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. Let us know which episode is your favorite in the comments below.
Tournament Across Brazil
While the official Opening Ceremony took place on Friday, Aug. 5, the WNT kicked things off against New Zealand (2-0 W) two days prior due to the length of time required to host a 12-team tournament. The U.S. remained in Belo Horizonte for Group G play against France (1-0 W) on Saturday, Aug. 6, before taking a 1,600-mile flight to Manaus – where the MNT played Portugal to a 2-2 draw in the 2014 World Cup – to finish Group G play against Colombia (2-2 T) on Wednesday, Aug. 9, where Pugh became the youngest U.S. WNT player to score in the Olympic Games. The USA traveled the 1,200-mile distance to Brasilia to begin the knockout stage of the Games against Sweden.
All USA matches will be available across a wide array of viewing options, airing on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), NBC Universo and the Soccer Specialty Channel as well as on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. All WNT matches on NBCSN will be called by NBC Sports Group’s lead Premier League announcer Arlo White (play-by-play) and two-time U.S. women’s soccer Olympic gold medalist Kate Markgraf (analyst). They will be joined by reporter Sebastian Salazar of CSN Mid Atlantic.