The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) will continue 2016 Olympic group play on Saturday, August 6 against France.
Both teams are coming off of wins in their Olympic openers. The USWNT defeated New Zealand 2-0, while France defeated Colombia 4-0.
The wins tie them at the top of their group with three points apiece, but France sits at the very top thanks to a higher goal differential. Only eight teams total will progress to the elimination rounds of the Olympics, including the top two teams of each group. That means that whichever team wins on Saturday will sit at the top of the group, but both teams could likely still advance.
Colombia and New Zealand are not teams to ever be counted out (Colombia notoriously defeated France in the 2015 Women’s World Cup), but the U.S. and France are by far each other’s biggest opponents in the group.
The last time the two teams competed against one another was in this year’s inaugural SheBelieves Cup tournament hosted by the USWNT. In that match, both teams struggled to accomplish much of anything offensively, and play was sloppy from both teams. France should have scored multiple goals, but they never could capitalize on any of their opportunities on goal.
USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo also came up big for the U.S. side, including stopping a near own-goal by teammate Carli Lloyd, whose wayward clearance of the ball nearly gave France a first-half lead. However, the USWNT managed to squeak out a 1-0 win after Alex Morgan scored a goal courtesy of a Mallory Pugh assist in stoppage time.
The USWNT looked much more put together on Wednesday night in their Olympic opener against New Zealand. Tobin Heath tallied an assist when she provided service from just outside the box and Carli Lloyd was able to head the ball past goalkeeper Erin Nayler to give the USWNT a lead in just the ninth minute. Alex Morgan would add a second goal in the second half to clinch the win and three points for the USWNT.
Teen phenom Mallory Pugh was injured in Wednesday night’s match against New Zealand and there were post-match reports of a mild ankle injury. However, it has since been reported that no USWNT player has been held out of training and that Pugh will be available for Saturday’s match.
France was by far the more dominant team against Colombia on Wednesday night, and Colombia did very little in preventing the European nation from winning. In just the opening minutes of the match, Colombia’s Carolina Arias put France on the board with an own goal, which would be the eventual game winner. France’s Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily and Amel Majri would go on to score three additional goals in the match.
The USWNT take on France at Mineirão in Belo Horizonte on Saturday, August 6 at 4 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and NBC Universo and streamed online at nbcolympics.com.
United States Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (6): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
HEAD COACH: Jill Ellis
France Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS: Sarah Bouhaddi (Olympique Lyonnais), Meline Gerard (Olympique Lyonnais)
DEFENDERS: Sabrina Delannoy (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Jessica Houara (Olympique Lyonnais), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier HSC), Amel Majri (Olympique Lyonnais), Griedge Mbock Bathy Nka (Olympique Lyonnais), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais)
MIDFIELDERS: Camile Abily (Olympique Lyonnais), Elise Bussaglia (VfL Wolfsburg), Kadidiatou Diani (FCF Juvisy), Kheira Hamraoui (Olympique Lyonnais), Amandine Henry (Portland Thorns FC), Claire Lavogez (Olympique Lyonnais), Louisa Necib (Olympique Lyonnais), Elodie Thomis (Olympique Lyonnais)
FORWARDS: Marie-Laure Delie (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Eugenie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyonnais)
HEAD COACH: Phillippe Bergeroo