Olympic soccer draw: USWNT gets Germany, U.S. men with France

The United States women’s national soccer team will face Australia, Germany and either Morocco or Zambia in Group B at the 2024 Paris Olympics, FIFA confirmed Wednesday during the tournament draw at the Pulse Building near Paris.

The tournament will mark the Americans’ first competitive games with incoming head coach Emma Hayes at the helm. She takes over the team following its worst finish in World Cup history last year, when the U.S. was eliminated by Sweden in the round of 16.

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“The bottom line is we’re just excited to have a path, to know who we’re playing, for the most part,” U.S. interim coach Twila Kilgore said in a news conference following the draw.

“We’ll start working on specific game plans and things like that, but also just to know the logistical path [helps]. There’s so much that goes into an Olympics with such a short turnaround and congested games. For our administration to be able to start mapping that out and take bigger steps towards where we’re headed is really, really important and exciting.”

Tournament play will begin for the U.S. on July 25 in Nice against either Morocco or Zambia, who will compete in a two-leg playoff in April. The Americans have never previously played either team.

The Americans won four of the first five Olympics to feature women’s soccer, but they are in search of their first gold medal since the 2012 London Games. They earned a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

The U.S. recently fell to No. 4 in FIFA’s rankings, its worst position since the rankings launched in 2003. But the Americans were one of three seeded teams for the tournament alongside World Cup champion Spain and host France. England, the No. 2 team in the world, failed to qualify (as Great Britain) for the Olympics.

The U.S. holds a 23-5-7 record against Germany. The two teams have combined to win six of the nine Women’s World Cup titles. They have previously met only once in Olympic play, a 2004 semifinal that the U.S. won 2-1 in extra time behind a goal from Heather O’Reilly.

Australia has defeated the U.S. only once in 34 meetings. The teams played to a scoreless draw in the group stage of the previous Olympics and met again in the bronze-medal game, which the U.S. won 4-3.

Morocco and Zambia each made their World Cup debuts last year. Morocco has never qualified for an Olympic women’s soccer tournament. Zambia made its debut in the tournament in 2021.

Kilgore was pleased with landing in Group B for the “right type of travel” between Nice and Marseille. She said she will meet in person with Hayes on Thursday to further discuss the draw and future plans. Kilgore has been in charge of the U.S. squad as interim coach since Vlatko Andonovski resigned following the team’s 2023 World Cup exit.

Hayes was announced as the new coach in November, but she will not begin her role with the team until late May, after completing the European club season with Chelsea.

Kilgore said that knowing the opponents does not greatly affect roster decisions, but she conceded that it is too soon to know that for sure.

“We’re not just looking at the group games,” Kilgore said. “The idea is that you prepare to move beyond the group games, and the idea is to select the best group of players that will work the best together to accomplish a variety of different tactical tasks.”

Defending Olympic women’s champion Canada will face Colombia, New Zealand and host France in Group A of the women’s tournament. Spain will play in Group C alongside Japan, Brazil and the winner of April’s NigeriaSouth Africa playoff.

The men’s Olympic draw also took place on Wednesday, with the U.S. men set to compete at the Olympics this summer for the first time since 2008 after failing to qualify for the previous three editions.

They American men were drawn in Group A alongside host France, New Zealand and the winner of a playoff between Guinea, the fourth-place team from African qualification, and the fourth-place team from Asian qualifying.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament is a U-23 competition. Each team is allowed three overage players.

“First, I believe we have enough talent to compete,” U.S. men’s Olympic coach Marko Mitrovic said in a news conference. “That’s the starting point.

“And the second thing [is] the commitment that players have is also something that is very appreciated from the whole staff. And then the excitement actually that we have to go to the Olympic Games and the positive vibes that make us, I would say, confident. But also, I believe we’re going to be ready for the challenges ahead of us in the Olympic Games.”