When and where: The U.S. take on Colombia in the preliminary round of the Olympic women's soccer at noon ET. Coverage of the game will be on the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBCOlympics.com.
Preview: Women's soccer kicked off the opening day of Olympic competition on Wednesday and provided the world with drama on many fronts. Defending champions and favorites to take home gold once again, the U.S. found themselves in a 2-0 deficit against a solid French team. It took an impressive recovery from the U.S. as they hit four answered goals to storm to a convincing 4-2 victory.
There was drama of a very different kind in Group G's second encounter of the day as Colombia faced off against North Korea. Before the game began, the flag for South Korea was displayed during the scoreboard introductions of the North Korean players, causing the team to storm off the field. After an hour long delay, North Korea went on to defeat Colombia 2-0.
The unpredictability from Group G is unlikely to carry over to Saturday as the tournament favorite U.S. team prepares to face off against Colombia. The U.S. has the opportunity to move into the knockout round with a victory combined with a favorable result in the game between North Korea and France. Colombia on the other hand will fight for their tournament survival. Not an attractive proposition as they face off against the world's best.
The U.S. will be looking for a better start than against France, however. In that opening encounter, sloppy defending and less than spectacular energy allowed the world No. 6 French squad to score twice in the first 14 minutes of play.
Against Colombia, the U.S. will play their familiar diamond midfield with Carli Lloyd starting in the holding role over Shannon Boxx, who is out with a hamstring injury. Megan Rapinoe was a key player in the opening game and will be integral once again as she will look for speedster Alex Morgan, who scored two goals against France.
Abby Wambach promises to give the Colombian squad ample difficulties with her impressive aerial play. At 5 foot 9, Kelis Peduzine is the tallest and most physically imposing player on the Colombia squad. With the rest of the Colombia backline standing at around 5 foot 6, forward Abby Wambach will likely use her imposing physique and ability in the air to threaten the defense.
The U.S. will face its greatest attacking threat in Carmen Rodallega, so look for the defense to pay close attention to her. The rest of the Colombian squad will have to avoid playing too many touches against an aggressive U.S. team.
Prediction: Overall, the U.S. is stronger, both mentally and physically, and far more experienced than Colombia. Regardless, the U.S. will be focused on keeping their defense tight in the opening minutes of Saturday's game, before looking to provide scoring opportunities for forwards Wambach and Morgan.
A year ago, the U.S. convincingly defeated Colombia 3-0, and a similar result is likely on Saturday. Expect U.S. coach Sundhage to use this game to showcase some reserve talent as well.
U.S. 4-0 Colombia