Rio Olympics: How does a USA-Brazil semifinal sound?

The USA, host Brazil and Canada are already through to the quarterfinals of the women's soccer competition at the Rio Olympics. The Americans finish group play on Tuesday against Colombia in Manaus.

The Cafeteras are a shadow of the team that lost to the USA, 2-0, in the round of 16 of the 2015 Women's World Cup and should pose little threat to the USA, which will win the group with a win or tie. After that? The games will come fast and furious.

USA-COLOMBIA. With only 18 players on the roster, U.S. coach Jill Ellis has little room to maneuver in resting players for the round of 16. She said on Monday that Julie Johnston and Mallory Pugh, who both sat out the 1-0 win over France with injuries, are available against Colombia.

Ellis could give Carli Lloyd, who has scored in both games after coming back from a knee injury that sidelined her for 10 weeks, and Tobin Heath, who set up both Lloyd goals but was recently bothered by a hamstring injury, a rest ahead of the quarterfinals.

Colombia has lost France, 4-0, and New Zealand, 1-0, and struggled without star Yoreli Rincon, who broke her leg in training and didn't travel to Brazil. In addition, Coach Felipe Taborda said on Monday that Catalina Usme injured her knee and Lady Andrade and Carolina Arias were from suffering "exhaustion." All three players played against the USA in last year's Women's World Cup game in Edmonton.

KNOCKOUT STAGE. The games will come fast and furious for the USA after the group stage. While it played seven games over 28 days at the 2015 Women's World Cup -- one every four days -- it will play six games in 17 days -- one less than every three days -- if it reaches the medal round (gold or bronze).

If the USA wins the group, it will move on to the quarterfinals on Friday against a third-place team in Brasilia -- the third-place team from Group E (likely China or Sweden) or Group F (likely Australia).

The Matildas are likely to be one of the two third-place teams that will advance, so the USA will face them if the third-place team in Group G (likely New Zealand) advances or China or Sweden if it is the second third-place team.

SEMIFINALS. All this sets up the possibility of a USA-Brazil semifinal four days after the quarterfinals at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, site of the 1950 and 2014 World Cup finals and Friday's Opening Ceremony.

If Brazil wins its group, it will have to get past the third-place team the USA didn't face in the quarterfinals.

A USA-Brazil matchup -- given the popularity of the women's team with Marta, Cristiane and Beatriz -- would be a dream matchup and one of the hottest tickets in Rio.

One last note: A U.S. quarterfinal and semifinal, as set forth, would both kick off at 1 p.m. local time.

Olympic Women's Soccer:
Aug. 9 in Manaus
Brazil vs. South Africa
Aug. 9 in Brasilia
China vs. Sweden

6 Brazil 2-0-0 8/1
3 China 1-0-1 2/3
3 Sweden 1-0-1 2/6
0 South Africa 0-0-2 0/3

Aug. 9 in Brasilia
Germany vs. Canada
Aug. 9 in Salvador
Australia vs. Zimbabwe

6 Canada 2-0-0 5/1
4 Germany 1-1-0 8/3
1 Australia 0-1-1 2/4
0 Zimbabwe 0-0-2 2/9

Aug. 9 in Manaus
USA vs. Colombia
Aug. 9 in Salvador
New Zealand vs. France

6 USA 2-0-0 3/0
3 France 1-0-1 4/1
3 New Zealand 1-0-1 1/2
0 Colombia 0-0-2 0/5
Aug. 12 in Brasilia
Game 1: 1G vs. 3E/F 
Aug. 12 in Salvador
Game 2: 2E vs. 2F
Aug. 12 in Sao Paulo
Game 3: 1F vs. 2G
Aug. 12 in Belo Horizonte
Game 4: 1E vs. 3F/G

Aug. 16 in Rio de Janeiro
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Aug. 16 in Belo Horizonte
Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner

Aug. 19 in Sao Paulo
Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser

Aug. 19 in Rio de Janeiro
Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner

2 comments about "Rio Olympics: How does a USA-Brazil semifinal sound?".
  1. Bob Ashpole, August 9, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    This article's focus on future matches instead of today's makes me a little nervous. I would keep Heath and Lloyd available on the bench today. Otherwise use the starters for the first match. I also would be looking at subbing early in the second half two attacking players, looking for 90 minutes from the replacements for Heath and Lloyd. If Johnson isn't 100%, I would leave her on the bench.

  2. ROBERT BOND, August 9, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    DFBfr v Can huge.........

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