Former Soviet and New Jersey Devils defenseman Alexei Kasatonov will head the Russian hockey team as its general manager in an attempt to score the country its first gold since it began competing as an independent nation.
“We all know what the Olympics mean, what kind of interest it creates worldwide. It’s the biggest prize in hockey and I just couldn’t turn down this offer,” Kasatonov said. “My job would be to talk to players, including those from the NHL, but the head coach will always have the final word.”
Kasatonov, who served as a GM in the KHL after retiring from the game, will try to help shape a team that can impress home fans in Sochi next February the way he and his national teammates did in the 70s and 80s. He was on the Soviet squad that famously lost to the U.S. Miracle on Ice team at the 1980 Olympics, but he got his revenge by earning back to back golds at the ’84 and ’88 Games.
His job shouldn’t be too tough with home ice advantage and the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin headlining, but Russia hasn’t medaled in men’s hockey since earning bronze more than a decade ago at the Salt Lake and people are probably getting antsy. Kasatonov included.
The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.
The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.
The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.
The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.
If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.
The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).
The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.
The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:
Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December
MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal
“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.
Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.
Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’