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Tim Howard unsure if MLS move will impact Olympic option

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U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has “no idea” if his move to the MLS’ Colorado Rapids on July 4 will preclude him from a possible over-age place on the U.S. Olympic soccer team in August.

“I think that’s something that will have to get ironed out, if there’s even a possibility of it,” Howard said Sunday. “I think we have to qualify [for the Olympics] first. Then after that, I guess they select their over-age players, and then I think some people in Denver might have to sign off on that, which I don’t know how that’s going to go over. To answer your question, I have no idea.”

Howard will play for the Rapids as a high-priced Designated Player signing after he finishes the English Premier League season with Everton. The MLS season runs into late fall.

Howard, a 2000 Olympian, would be an intriguing but complicated option for a place on the Rio Olympic team.

First, the U.S. must beat Colombia in a home-and-home Olympic qualifying playoff later this month.

Not only are the Olympics in Brazil, where Howard was a wall for the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup, but he could also make his Olympic debut in Rio.

Howard made the 2000 U.S. Olympic team as the No. 2 goalkeeper and ascended to No. 1 when Adin Brown was taken off the Olympic team due to injury, two weeks before the Games.

The following day, Brown’s replacement was named — longtime U.S. men’s national team goalie and 1992 Olympian Brad Friedel. Friedel started every match for the U.S. at the Sydney Games en route to a fourth-place finish, relegating Howard to the bench.

In 2000, Howard was 21 years old, but this year he would have to be one of three over-age selections if he’s on the Olympic team. Like Friedel was in 2000.

All but three players on each Rio Olympic men’s soccer team must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, keeping the Olympic soccer squads to mostly under-23 players.

The last three U.S. Olympic soccer teams all included over-age goalies — Kasey Keller in 1996, Friedel in 2000 and Brad Guzan in 2008.

Keller and Friedel preceded Howard as U.S. starting goalies at World Cups. Guzan is Howard’s main competition to be the U.S.’ No. 1 goalie at June’s Copa America Centenario.

Clubs are required to release players to play in Copa America Centenario, with Guzan and Howard both likely to be on the U.S. roster for that North and South American tournament.

Clubs are not required to release players for the Olympics, meaning the Rapids could keep their high-priced acquisition Howard from competing in the Rio Games. The Rapids play three MLS games during the Olympics.

“It’s always an exciting prospect, but I think you’re talking about something that is far off in the distance,” Howard said of the Olympics. “My immediate focus is to finish out the season with Everton, play in the Copa America and then ultimately get myself out to Denver and start putting some pieces in place to be successful. Whatever happens after that, I don’t really know.”

Designated Players have been a part of MLS since 2007. The only U.S. Olympic soccer team during the Designated Player era — the Beijing 2008 squad — included zero MLS Designated Players.

NBC Olympics producer Seth Rubinroit contributed to this report.

MORE: Landon Donovan backs Howard for Rio 2016

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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