Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Lloyd, Morgan help USA open gold defense with win over New Zealand

Leave a comment

Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan scored as the United States opened its defense of Olympic gold by gliding to a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday at Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.

The win puts Team USA atop Group G and New Zealand at bottom ahead of Wednesday’s 9 p.m. EDT kickoff between Colombia and France.

The U.S. gets France on Saturday, while New Zealand will meet Colombia.

Notably, fans chanted “Zika” at Hope Solo in her run-up to goal kicks.

MORE: Highlights here

The Yanks had a corner kick within four minutes, and looked set to go ahead only to be foiled a couple times by Football Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler.

Then, a dangerous free kick on the edge of the 19 as Ali Riley hacked down Lloyd. The ensuing offering was badly missed off a header by a point-blank Alex Morgan.

The breakthrough came when ever-dangerous Tobin Heath cut in from the left and curled a hard cross for Lloyd to head home. 1-0, 10′ (Watch it here).

Hope Solo was wise to New Zealand’s first good bit of danger in the 29th minute, coming out to collect a floated ball.

Halftime saw the score the same. The second half had less than a minute of it, as Morgan beat Nayler short side for a too-easy left-footed goal. 2-0.

New Zealand found a rare bit of attack in the 79th minute, but bungled several chances at a good shot on net before the U.S. blocked one out for a corner. It came to nothing.

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!