I’m in total Olympics mode this last week, so I hope you’ll forgive me for my Olympic-centric DKAs of late. We’re into the knockout round of both the men’s and women’s tournaments, and with some of the best teams in the world matching up, you can just tear up those predictions you made at the start.
Heading into the quarterfinals, if you’d ask me to predict the women’s semis I would have said USA, Japan, Great Britain and France. But the boat was rocked Friday, when Team GB was shut out by Canada, sending the two CONCACAF rivals into the final four to face each other with an appearance in the gold medal match on the line. France and Sweden could have gone either way, but I gave France the edge with more time to recover from blowing a 2-0 lead to the USA, whereas Sweden had just let a 2-0 lead to Canada slip away in the final group match. In the end, it proved correct as Sweden once again blew an early lead to fall 2-1 at the hands of two defenders, Wendie Renard and Laura Georges.
What else was crazy about the women’s tournament? I’ve gathered some highlights and great perspectives below. Plus, some good reads on the men’s semifinals, kicking off today.
Women’s Olympic Quarterfinals
Brazil-Japan in the quarterfinals had the potential to be as classic as Brazil-USA in the 2011 World Cup. But it wasn’t to be, as the Brazilians fell flat, getting shut out for the second straight match. Brazil certainly had their moments and opportunities but a couple of mistakes in the back, combined with their rising frustration and Marta not having her best game, got the better of them. After falling to Japan in their earliest exit from the Olympics ever, hard questions remain about Brazil’s future. Ray Curren at All White Kit writes about what we learned from this match, and what the future holds for Marta, Cristiane and the Brazilians.
Former U.S. National Team members Cat Whitehill and Kate Markgraf break down the U.S. win over New Zealand and preview the semifinals.
Doesn’t it seem as if Abby Wambach is at the height of her game right now? It feels like nothing is going to deny her the long-coveted gold, after missing the Beijing games with a broken leg. But I believe it’s more than just her will and desire that’s got Abby clicking on all cylinders right now. My latest perspective discusses Abby’s new role and how it shows that she’s the clear leader on the team right now, even when not scoring goals.
Are you following @Rapignome on Twitter? If you love U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe, you should be. “Gnomie”, as Rapinoe affectionately calls it, is her virtual Twitter sidekick, tweeting its Rapinoe-inspired adventures during the tournament and virtually photo-bombing pics with Pinoe all over the field. It was even featured on NBC this morning, when they showed this tweet that Rapinoe retweeted and commented on by the beloved Gnomie. Reality show, anyone?
Men’s Olympic Quarterfinals
Is this finally the year for Brazil, or will Team GB capture the benefit of their home field advantage? Steve Cangialosi and Cobi Jones break down the quarterfinals in this video from NBCOlympics.com.
The Japanese men’s team may be following in the footsteps of their female counterparts, having made a terrific run through the tournament to solidify their spot in the semifinals today with a 3-0 win over Egypt. Japan has not conceded a goal yet, stunning Spain 1-0 in the first match of group play, then defeating Morocco by a goal, and ending the group stage with a scoreless draw against Honduras. But it was today’s win-or-go-home match against Egypt where they really poured it on, inciting Egypt to lose Saadeldin Saad to a red card near the end of the first half on a hard tackle just outside the penalty area. Japan will face their toughest test yet, though, when they meet Mexico in the semis next week.