The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) now knows the path to Olympic gold as the tournament draw took place on Thursday morning in Rio de Janeiro. The USWNT has been drawn into Group G with France, Colombia, and New Zealand.
The USWNT, who have never won a gold medal after winning the World Cup, will enter this tournament as the heavy favorites. The team has flat out dominated their competition throughout 2015-16 winning 26 of 30 games with one loss – the final match in 2015 to China, 1-0.
The initial reaction was that the U.S. has been drawn into a tough group. The reality was they would have to play either France or Sweden. They caught a break with New Zealand, instead of Canada or China, and they unfortunately were grouped with the toughest team in pot 4. That team is Colombia, the #24 ranked team in the world. This is the team the USWNT just beat by a combined score of 10-0 in back-to-back games last week.
The biggest hurdle for the team to clear is the ongoing issues between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT. Several high profile players recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the complaint, the five players argue that the USWNT is paid nearly 40% less than the men, despite bringing in nearly as much revenue for U.S. Soccer as the men do. The five players who signed the complaint are co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo. It has been noted by other members of the U.S. Women’s National Team that these five players are acting on behalf of the entire team.
The players have not been shy of mentioning that a boycott remains an option. Time will tell on this issue, however, the clock is ticking and the first match for the USWNT is 111 days away.
The USWNT will also be traveling to Manaus for its third match. Yes, Manaus. The most populous city of the Amazon rainforest.
Below is the full schedule for the USWNT:
Wednesday, August 3
USWNT vs. New Zealand – Belo Horizonte
Saturday, August 6
USWNT vs. France – Belo Horizonte
Tuesday, August 9
USWNT vs. Colombia – Manaus