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The U.S. women are favorites in Tokyo after upset in Brazil

July 3, 2021 GMT

HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: Germany won its first gold medal with a 2-1 victory over Sweden. It was quite a swan song for Germany coach Silvia Neid, a two-time FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year. She stepped down after the game at Rio’s historic Maracanã Stadium. But the big story was that the United States wasn’t in the final for the first time since women’s soccer became part of the Olympics in 1996. That’s because the Americans were memorably eliminated by Sweden — and former coach Pia Sundhage — in the quarterfinals. Afterward, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo called the Swedes cowards for bunkering in on defense. Canada won its second straight bronze medal by defeating host Brazil.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: The United States has four Olympic gold medals, most of any nation, and they’re the favorites in the field of 12 teams. The Americans are trying to become the first team to double, winning Olympic gold after winning the World Cup. The U.S. team is deep, with stars like Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. Canada is back, too, hoping to improve on back-to-back bronzes. Among the other teams looking to medal are the Netherlands, runners up to the United States at the World Cup, and host Japan. Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman will step down following the Olympics to take over as England’s head coach heading into the 2023 World Cup.

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ATHLETES TO WATCH: Brazil’s Marta is back for her fifth Olympics. The six-time FIFA World Player of the Year helped Brazil win silver medals in 2004 and 2008, but the gold has eluded her. ... Canada’s Christine Sinclair is the game’s top international goal scorer, among men and women. She’s heading to her fourth Olympics. ... Australia’s Sam Kerr is known to do backflips after she scores — which she does a lot. ... On the American side, Carli Lloyd has worked to show she’s still got it at 38, and will be 39 when the tournament opens. And of course Megan Rapinoe usually has something to say at these big events.

GOLD MEDAL MOMENTS: The gold medal match is set for Aug. 6 at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

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