Soccer

Women's soccer odds: Who stands a chance against USWNT in Rio Olympics?

Women's soccer odds: Who stands a chance against USWNT in Rio Olympics?

CSN Mid-Atlantic's Sebastian Salazar is at the Rio Olympics covering the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. He'll be sharing regular updates from Brazil via CSNmidatlantic.com and on Twitter (@SebiSalazarCSN) and Facebook (facebook.com/SebiSalazarCSN). 

While the Opening Ceremonies are still a few days away, Wednesday marks the beginning of the women's soccer tournament at the Rio Olympics. The U.S. Women open their gold-medal defense against New Zealand Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Jill Ellis's team is the clear front runner, but a look at Bookmaker.EU odds provide a better idea of how much the Americans are favored, which teams could potentially upset them and how the rest of the field should fare in Rio.

TOURNAMENT ODDS:

U.S. (+130)

Aiming for a fourth straight gold medal, the American women are the prohibitive favorites in Rio. Instead of rebuilding after their World Cup triumph last summer, the U.S. simply reloaded. Abby Wambach is long retired, but newcomers Lindsay Horan, Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn are more than ready to compliment the likes of Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. Trying to become the first team to win a World Cup and Olympics in back-to-back years provides further motivation for Jill Ellis’ stacked team.

Germany (+350)

There was a time when Germany was the class of the women’s international game, winning consecutive World Cups in 2003 and 2007, but the generation of players responsible for those victories has largely moved on. Nadine Angerer – the first goalie (man or woman) to win FIFA Player of the Year honors – retired last year and both Celia Sasic (personal choice) and Nadine Kessler (injury) have stepped away from the national team before their 30th birthdays. Eight of Germany’s 18 players are 25 or under, so their favorable odds may have more to do with reputation than the realities of the current roster.

Brazil (+550)

Brazil is about as mercurial a team as you’ll find in this field, with the ability to both dazzle and implode at a moments notice. Their stars are aging, but Marta (30) and Cristiane (31) are still dangerous and both are coming off solid seasons with their respective European clubs. As host nation it comes as no surprise that Brazil finds itself in the easiest group and that should set up a relatively easy quarterfinal match. Should the Brazilians advance to the semis, they’ll be embraced by a soccer-mad nation desperate for a winner. With a home crowd behind this talented – if not always consistent – team, anything is possible.

France (+650)

Though France’s ascension to the top-tier of women’s soccer is well documented, they’ve never truly gotten over the hump. A 90th minute goal cost the French a bronze medal in London, and penalty kicks denied them a semifinal spot at last summer’s World Cup. That said, this team figures to be the one to break through. Amadine Henry, Wendie Renard and Eugénie Le Sommer were all FIFPro World XI selections last year and Elodie Thomis is one of the fastest players you’ll ever see. While an underdog to the Americans, expect France to challenge the U.S. for Group G’s top spot. Should they take it, that +650 will look like a great bet.

Canada (+1400)

While a repeat of their 2012 bronze-medal performance would be a surprise, the Canadians should feel somewhat harshly done by these long odds. Canada’s most recent performance saw them go toe-to-toe with France (and at times look the better team) in a 1-0 defeat on French soil. Christine Sinclair will again lead the line, and her strike rate (3 goals, 7 games played) this NWSL season suggests the aging veteran can still produce. With longtime starter Erin McLeod injured, Stephanie Labbe takes over the #1 goalie spot. How she performs could determine just how far Canada goes.

Sweden (+1400)

Sweden arrived in the field at Rio via the back door, qualifying only because Great Britain didn’t send a team. That said, former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage knows how to navigate the Olympic tournament, having won the last two gold medals with the USWNT. Frankly, the Swedes looked slow while going winless at last summer’s World Cup, though they seem to be trying to address that by bringing in some younger players. 

Australia (+2500)

How Australia has odds this much worse than Canada and Sweden is strange to say the least. The Matildas have tons of physicality, talent and pace – especially in volatile attacker Lisa De Vanna, who can absolutely take over a game on her own. They should easily advance out of Group F, but if the Aussies can’t avoid doing so as a third-place team, it will seriously hurt their chances of surviving the quarterfinal round.

China (+2500)

Per usual China, will be a very difficult team to defeat, but it’s also hard to imagine them beating any of the top-tier teams, let alone doing so multiple times as would be required to reach the medal stand. Converted defender Wang Shanshan has shown a penchant for scoring crucial goals, while 6-foot-1 goalie Zhao Lina has proven she can singlehandedly keep the Chinese in any contest.

New Zealand (+9000)

With some high-quality players – Abby Erceg, Katie Bowen and Ali Riley – along their back line, the Football Ferns will be very difficult to break down. Add to that a strong goalkeeper in Erin Nayler and you can understand why New Zealand are poised to reach the knockout phase despite the difficulty of their group. From there, little will be expected.

Colombia (+10000)

After a great World Cup last summer, Colombia have somehow managed to waste away all their momentum heading into the Olympics. First off, the Colombians have hardly played since Canada, going almost 9 months without a match at one point. Beyond that, the absences of stars Yoreli Rincon (broken fibula) and Daniela Montoya (manager’s choice) make an already difficult draw borderline impossible.

South Africa (+15000)

South Africa drew some well-earned praise for their extremely organized defensive performance against the United States in a recent friendly. Though unlikely, an upset over China or Sweden shouldn’t be ruled out completely. And that would likely be enough to see South Africa through to a quarterfinal.

Zimbabwe (+25000)

The unquestioned minnows of this 12-team tournament, it’s hard to envision Zimbabwe scoring a goal, let alone notching a point against tough Group F competition. Still, these are way better odds than Leicester City were getting before the last Premier League season and we all know how that turned out.

Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

It’s still six years out, but Washington, D.C. is making a push to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the nation’s capital.

With North America selected as the location of choice for the 2026 World Cup rather than one country in particular, D.C. officials announced Tuesday their intention to make Washington one of the 16 host cities for the 80-match tournament.

“Right now, as countries around the world continue to respond to this pandemic, the 2026 FIFA World Cup is something we can all look forward to,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. “And when the tournament comes to North America, it only makes sense for DC — the Sports Capital and District of Champions — to host. We are already a city united by the game, and in 2026, we look forward to uniting the world.”

According to The Washington Post, 10 cities from the U.S. are expected to land matches for the tournament with Canada and Mexico splitting the other six. It will be the first time in World Cup history that the tournament will be shared by more than two countries.

The District established a group called DC2026, which announced a 40-member advisory board that includes D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, three-time MLS champion Eddie Pope, Washington Spirit stars Joanna Lohman and Andi Sullivan, two-time gold medalist Brianna Scurry, EventsDC chairman Max Brown, chef José Andrés and D.C. United general partner Gregory O’Dell.

“As a native Washingtonian, I am proud to be a Co-Chair of DC’s official bid committee to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Hamid said in a statement. “I could not think of a more vibrant, inclusive or passionate soccer city to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026. With our deep soccer roots and diversity, the culture of our city gives us our foundation to successfully highlight the matches and leave a lasting impact on the future of the game.”

DC2026 plans to tout D.C.’s “unparalleled roots to the sport of soccer and world-class hosting capabilities” as part of its pitch. In a three-page press release, the group laid out advantages such as the metro system and three local airports that would allow it to host the increased number of tourists.

The city last hosted the World Cup in 1994, when it made RFK Stadium one of nine U.S. venues for the tournament. It’s also held Olympic soccer games (1996) as well as the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

MORE SOCCER NEWS:

WATCH: American Christian Pulisic nets second goal for Chelsea in as many games

WATCH: American Christian Pulisic nets second goal for Chelsea in as many games

The Premier League restart has gone as good as possible for Christian Pulisic.

The United States National Team star netted his second goal in as many games for Chelsea on Thursday, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead over Manchester City shortly before halftime.

Pulisic gained possession of the ball off of a poor City turnover, and suddenly, he was one-on-one with defender Benjamin Mendy. The American winger used a brilliant hesitation move to dribble past Mendy before curling his shot past keeper Ederson for the goal.

Pulisic's goal comes on the heels of his solid outing on Sunday, where he scored Chelsea's first goal in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Thursday's finish was Pulisic's eighth goal in 25 appearances since arriving at Chelsea from German side Borussia Dortmund this past summer.

Pulisic had previously been sidelined since January 1 with an adductor injury but was close to returning before the season was paused in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Premier League's resumption gives the American star a chance to rewrite the narrative on an otherwise incomplete first season with the Blues.

Besides Chelsea supporters, no one is happier about Pulisic's goal than Liverpool fans. Should Chelsea win or draw, Liverpool will clinch their first-ever Premier League title (and first league title in 30 years).

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