Women’s World Cup

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Germany will not defend Olympic women’s soccer title

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The German women’s soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup and from defending its Olympic title on Saturday.

Sweden’s 2-1 win in the World Cup quarterfinals ensured that these will be the European nations at the 2020 Olympics — Great Britain, Netherlands and Sweden.

In a change from 2016, there is no separate UEFA Olympic women’s qualifying tournament; only the top three countries from the World Cup go to Tokyo, which ended up being the three teams that reached the semifinals along with the U.S.

So the world’s second- and fourth-ranked teams (Germany, France) will not be at the Olympics. The top-ranked U.S. can qualify for Tokyo at a CONCACAF tournament in 2020.

Germany beat Sweden 2-1 in the 2016 Olympic final to join the U.S. and Norway as the only nations to win Olympic women’s soccer gold.

Norway is the only other nation to fail to qualify for the Olympics after winning the women’s soccer title four years earlier, missing the Athens 2004 event.

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Carli Lloyd ranks Olympic final-winning goals, World Cup hat trick

Carli Lloyd
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Carli Lloyd learned something from scoring dramatic goals in the world’s biggest tournament finals.

Take a souvenir when it’s all over.

“You know, I was late to the boat on that one,” she said recently. “In 2015 World Cup, I grabbed the ball. Well, I did get a ball from 2008 and 2012 [Olympics], as well, but it wasn’t like the game ball. But from now on, if I score in the final, I’m stealing the ball.”

Lloyd hopes her next try at thievery will come at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where the U.S. women could go for a fourth straight gold medal. They’re favored to qualify for the Games at a CONCACAF tournament in February in Texas, where the two finalists earn Olympic spots.

Lloyd, one of three finalists for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award to be presented Jan. 11, is best known for scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes of the World Cup final July 5, a 5-2 win over Japan in a rematch of the 2011 final won by the Japanese.

Before that, Lloyd also netted all of the U.S. goals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold-medal games, the former against Brazil in extra time.

How does she rank those three feats?

“Obviously the 2015 No. 1, 2012 No. 2 and 2008 three,” Lloyd said. “They’ve all been stepping stones to get me to the 2015. It’s hard to kind of put in order because it’s like this evolution of continuing to improve. 2008, I was very inexperienced. 2012, I was more experienced, I was way more fit, but I was benched before [those Olympics]. So that posed a different challenge. … It’s almost like, after I finish each event, it’s like that was better than last year. That’s kind of the evolution of my career.”

Lloyd and the U.S. program will count on that progress in 2016.

She’s started 23 of the 24 total U.S. matches at the last two Olympics and two World Cups (coming off the bench in the 17th minute of the 2012 Olympic opener, scoring the game winner in a U.S. comeback and playing every minute the rest of the tournament).

No other American field player has started even one match at all four of those tournaments.

Olympic and World Cup teammates Abby WambachShannon BoxxLori Chalupny and Lauren Holiday have retired. One of Lloyd’s midfield partners, Megan Rapinoe, tore an ACL last week, eight months before the Rio Games.

“I’m now emerging as a leader on the team, someone who needs to take some of the younger players under their wing, has to command the offense, just really lead by example on and off the field and be someone who’s encouraging,” said Lloyd, who is 33 and two years older than any other regular U.S. starter in the field.

An August trip to Rio would not be her first Brazil visit. She scored five goals, including a hat trick, at the December 2014 Tournament of Brasilia, losing to Brazil in the final.

“It was awful,” she said. “We were in Brasilia. There was absolutely nothing there. … I’m looking forward to being in some other cities.”

Lloyd mapped out the rest of her career. Ideally, Olympic gold in Rio, another World Cup title in 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Games as her finale.

She described the Olympics and the World Cup as “completely the same.”

“I don’t want to say it’s not as hard to win an Olympics, but there’s less teams [12 versus 24 at the World Cup],” Lloyd said. “It’s not like the end-all, be-all for a soccer player. The World Cup is like the World Cup. And there’s a lot of teams, and it’s really hard to win it.”

One of her dream moments in the five months since the World Cup was speaking with Lionel Messi through a translator in Houston on Aug. 31.

See you in January, Messi told her, referencing the FIFA awards. Messi is one of three finalists for the men’s Player of the Year.

“It took scoring three goals in a World Cup final for people to actually see what I’ve been doing all these years,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t just emerge this World Cup. I’ve done things over the past, and for whatever reasons it’s just been flying under the radar.”

MORE SOCCER: U.S. women’s star tears ACL eight months before Rio

Abby Wambach ‘planning on playing’ in Rio, ‘still need time to decide’

Abby Wambach
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Abby Wambach said she’s “planning on playing” at the Rio Olympics next summer but needed time to make future decisions, speaking on a morning TV show in her native Rochester, N.Y., on Wednesday.

“What’s next for me, my life plan, I haven’t decided about what I’m going to do,” Wambach said (video here). “I’m planning on playing next summer in Rio, but I gotta let my body recover, because that’s the other thing about playing on artificial surface. Seven games is a lot of games [at the World Cup], and it wasn’t a long period of time we were playing over. So my body took some hits, and I’m trying to recover. I’m going to vacation with my family over the next couple of weeks. … I’m excited to go and vacation, get away from a little bit of the whirlwind I’ve been on, to rest, relax and to be able to make maybe some of those future decisions.”

Wambach also said, “If I’m asked to play on the team, at that point I’m going to have to make a decision the next couple of months depending on my fitness level and whatnot,” according to Yahoo. “I’m getting older, definitely not getting younger, but the reality is, if I’m asked to play for my country it might be difficult to say no. But I haven’t made any definitive decisions yet.”

Wambach, 35, said before the World Cup and directly after winning it July 5 that she would take the weeks and months following the World Cup, even into next year, to decide on the Olympics, seeing how her body feels.

Wambach, international soccer’s all-time leading scorer, won gold with the U.S. in 2004 and 2012. She missed the Beijing 2008 Olympics due to a broken leg suffered one month before the Games.

Wambach will turn 36 two months before the Rio Olympics. Two U.S. players older than that have played in the Olympics since women’s soccer was added in 1996 — Christie Rampone in 2012 and Joy Fawcett in 2004, according to sports-reference.com.

It would be tougher for Wambach to make the 2016 Olympics than the 2015 World Cup not only because she will be one year older, but also because the Olympic roster size is 18 players. The World Cup was 23 players.

The U.S. is stacked with attackers to challenge Wambach for roster spots and playing time, including Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez.

Christie Rampone open to fifth Olympics, age record