Kelley O’Hara hoping USWNT’s gold rush continues at Rio 2016

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Kelley O’Hara and the U.S. women’s national team begin their quest for gold at Rio 2016 on Wednesday as the Olympic soccer tournament kicks off.

The USWNT have won three-straight gold medals — including four golds in the five Olympic soccer tournaments to date — and are the heavy favorites to defend their Olympic title in Brazil this summer.

[ STREAM: Watch every game from Rio 2016 ]

O’Hara, 27, was part of the U.S. side which secured the gold medal at London 2012 and after adding a World Cup winners medal to her trophy cabinet in 2015, the Sky Blue FC star is aiming for more glory as part of Team USA.

Speaking exclusively to ProSoccerTalk in the build-up to the Olympics in association with Coppertone, O’Hara is eager to experience the rush of competing in the Olympics once again.

How hopeful is she that the U.S. can bring home a gold medal this summer and become the first-team ever to hold both the World Cup and Olympic titles at the same time?

“Extremely hopeful,” O’Hara said, energetically. “Everyone’s goal is always to win the gold medal and no women’s soccer team has ever won a World Cup and then won an Olympic gold medal so we all want to be the first team to do that.”

In terms of the competition in front of the USWNT in Brazil, it is perhaps the strongest-ever field at a women’s Olympic soccer tournament. Six of the top 10 FIFA-ranked teams in the world will be competing

“Every year women’s soccer continues to grow and countries continue to get better,” O’Hara said. “I think this tournament will be even harder than London was in 2012. I think France is going to be a contender and also Brazil, being the host country, will also be one.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Heather Mitts #2 and Kelley O'Hara #5 of United States celebrate their 2-1 gold medal victory over Japan during the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

At the London 2012 games O’Hara played every single second as the U.S. launched a memorable run to the gold medal match and beat Japan 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to win gold.

How did she feel after winning that title?

“When the final whistle blew and we knew we had won and there was no more stress and no-one could ever take away our gold medal, it was incredible,” O’Hara said. “I was one of the youngest players on that team and just knowing that I didn’t let any of the older players down, that was kind of one of my biggest stresses during the tournament. I wanted it for them. Obviously for everyone and for myself, but just knowing that I didn’t screw anything up and we had the gold medal was pretty cool.”

Fast forward three years and O’Hara was again tasting success, this time with the USWNT at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

In the semifinal win against Germany she came onto the pitch in the 75th minute and scored her first-ever international goal nine minutes later to seal the USA’s spot in the final against Japan which they would go on to win 5-2 and become world champs. Reflecting on that goal, O’Hara was happy to play her part.

“Probably from my individual performance at the tournament, that goal was pretty incredible. I was just so happy to be able to help the team in any way possible,” O’Hara said. “Putting in that goal meant we were up 2-0 with about 10 minutes left of a semifinal, that pretty much guaranteed we were going to be going to the final. That was an incredible feeling.”

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 30: Kelley O'Hara #5 of the United States celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the second half against Germany in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Semi-Final Match at Olympic Stadium on June 30, 2015 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Following on from that World Cup success was a huge victory tour of games around the country and an open-to bus parade of New York City as the USWNT rode down the Canyon of Heroes with the trophy in a glorious ticker-tape parade. That was the highlight of the World Cup success for O’Hara.

“I would say they ticker-tape parade was pretty cool. None of us really knew what to expect going into it,” O’Hara said. “We didn’t really know the type of turnout we would get so riding down Broadway and seeing people completely packed from the buildings all the way to the sidewalk. And then every block we passed people were just all the way down each block. It was insane. It was just really cool to see and especially to see everyone from New York come out and support us.”

Originally a forward during her standout career at Stanford University which saw her win the Hermann Trophy as the top collegiate player in 2009 and excel in attacking roles for the U.S. youth teams, O’Hara has gradually shifted further back during her career. Able to operate as a winger or a full back after former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage switched her there before London 2012, O’Hara now operates a more defensive role for the U.S. national team.

When asked what her preferred position is, she gave this honest answer.

“I just like playing soccer,” O’Hara laughed. “I’ll play wherever you put me. I honestly don’t have a preferred position. Whatever the coach needs I can do that. All the different positions I’ve played have some fun aspects to them and maybe some not as enjoyable but at the end of the day soccer is soccer and I just like to play.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Kelley O'Hara #5 of United States moves the ball against Aya Miyama #8 of Japan in the second half during the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

When she takes the field at Rio 2016 O’Hara will be representing Team USA. Is that any different than representing, and winning, a tournament like the World Cup with the U.S. national team?

“It is different because in the Olympics you are playing for Team USA and all these other athletes are competing and you feel a part of this big athletic movement,” O’Hara explained. “Then for the World Cup it is just purely football and everyone’s focus is just on our one team. It is different in that way but other than that, winning is winning. A gold medal is a gold medal.”

Like most of the U.S. national team, O’Hara is now pretty familiar with winning gold medals at Olympics and World Cups and this summer the entire nation will be hoping her gold rush continues.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Hope Solo #1, Shannon Boxx #7 and Christie Rampone #3, Amy LePeilbet #6, Kelley O'Hara #5 of the United States celebrates after defeating Japan by a score of 2-1 to win the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

FA Cup fourth round schedule, how to watch live, predictions

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The FA Cup always delivers shocks and plenty of Premier League clubs have tricky tasks facing them in the fourth round.

After Aston Villa, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth were all knocked out by lower league opponents in round three, plus Everton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Brentford knocked out by fellow Premier League sides, there are only 11 top-flight teams left in the last 32.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores, updates ]

The fourth-round draw’s already been conducted and Arsenal will tangle with Manchester City in a tantalizing tie, while Brighton against Liverpool has the makings of a classic and Manchester United will be on upset alert against Reading and so too will West Ham as they face a tough trip to third-tier Derby County.

Read on for FA Cup stream info, fixtures, and predictions.


FA Cup live scores, schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Fourth round (January 27-30)
Times: Below
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: ESPN+


FA Cup fourth round schedule

All games 10am ET unless otherwise stated

Friday
Man City vs Arsenal – 3pm ET

Saturday
Accrington Stanley vs Leeds United – 7:30am ET
Walsall vs Leicester City – 7:30am ET
Fulham vs Sunderland
Bristol City vs West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday vs Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers vs Birmingham City
Luton Town vs Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town vs Burnley
Southampton vs Blackpool
Preston North End vs Tottenham Hotspur – 1pm ET
Manchester United vs Reading – 3pm ET

Sunday
Brighton vs Liverpool – 8:30am ET
Stoke City vs Stevenage – 9am ET
Wrexham vs Sheffield United – 11:30am ET

Monday
Derby County vs West Ham – 2:45pm ET


FA Cup fourth round predictions – By Joe Prince-Wright

Friday
Man City 2-1 Arsenal

Saturday
Accrington Stanley 1-3 Leeds United
Walsall 1-2 Leicester City
Fulham 1-2 Sunderland
Bristol City 1-2 West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Birmingham City
Luton Town 3-1 Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town 1-3 Burnley
Southampton 2-0 Blackpool
Preston North End 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United 2-1 Reading

Sunday
Brighton 2-2 Liverpool
Stoke City 2-1 Stevenage
Wrexham 1-2 Sheffield United

Monday
Derby County 1-1 West Ham


FA Cup third round replays

Tuesday 

Swansea City 1-2 (AET) Bristol City
Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Birmingham City (original tie postponed due to waterlogged pitch)
Wigan 1-2 Luton
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool
West Brom 4-0 Chesterfield

Wednesday

Leeds United 5-2 Cardiff City

Tuesday, January 24

Accrington Stanley vs Boreham Wood


FA Cup third round results

Friday

Manchester United 3-1 Everton

Saturday

Preston North End 3-1 Huddersfield Town
Reading 2-0 Watford
Tottenham 1-0 Portsmouth
Gillingham 0-1 Leicester City
Forest Green Rovers vs Birmingham City — PPD
Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton
Hull City 0-2 Fulham
Middlesbrough 1-5 Brighton
Fleetwood Town 2-1 QPR
Ipswich Town 4-1 Rotherham
Bournemouth 2-4 Burnley
Blackpool 4-1 Nottingham Forest
Chesterfield 3-3 West Brom
Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United
Boreham Wood 1-1 Accrington Stanley
Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Sunderland
Brentford 0-1 West Ham
Coventry City 3-4 Wrexham
Luton Town 1-1 Wigan
Grimsby Town 1-0 Burton Albion
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 2-2 Wolves

Sunday

Bristol City 1-1 Swansea City
Derby County 3-0 Barnsley
Cardiff City 2-2 Leeds
Stockport 1-2 Walsall
Hartlepool 0-3 Stoke City
Norwich 0-1 Blackpool
Aston Villa 1-2 Stevenage
Man City 4-0 Chelsea

Monday

Oxford United 0-3 Arsenal


Premier League midseason grades

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We are at the midway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out a grade for all 20 clubs based on their play so far.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Which teams have struggled? Who has overachieved? What have been the biggest stories so far?

[ LATEST: Premier League table in full ]

Below we dish out a grade to every club with analysis on their 2022-23 campaign so far.


The strugglers

Southampton: F
Everton: F
West Ham: D-
Chelsea: D-
Leicester City: D-

Three of these five teams (Saints, Everton and Chelsea) have fired their manager and that says it all. Southampton’s transfer policy was risky but they have a chance of getting out of the relegation zone, while Everton look in a whole world of trouble with Frank Lampard fired and discontent rising among supporters. Chelsea are in a bit of mess and keep chucking money at it, with the top four already seeming out of reach under new boss Graham Potter. As for West Ham and Leicester, well, they’ve both underachieved massively and have shown glimpses of climbing up the table during the season, but there’s just an extra spark missing for both despite their talented squads.


The underachievers

Liverpool: D
Leeds: D
Wolves: D
Crystal Palace: C-
Bournemouth: C

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have massively underachieved this season and they’ve lacked energy and confidence from the very start. Can they rebound and battle for the top four? They’ve done it before but this will take one heck of a turnaround as they look lackluster in midfield and shaky in defense. Leeds and Wolves both have better squads than being in a relegation scrap but that’s what they’re in. Marsch has to make Leeds better at the back, while Julen Lopetegui has Wolves organized but needs goals. As for Crystal Palace, they’ve slightly underachieved but are doing okay in midtable under Patirck Vieira, while Bournemouth have spent most of the season (until recently) out of the relegation zone which is much better than what they expected.


The teams figuring it out

Nottingham Forest: B-
Aston Villa: B-
Tottenham: B
Manchester City: B+
Manchester United: B+

In the case of the two Manchester clubs, Erik ten Hag has got United playing with a structure and confidence and they are right in the top four battle. As for Manchester City, well, they have Erling Haaland which papers over a lot of cracks. Still, Pep Guardiola’s side are ominously sat just behind Arsenal in the title battle as they love to chase teams down. Tottenham have had a crazy season full of ups and downs but are still basically where they should be: battling for a top four finish. Aston Villa have figured it out with Unai Emery coming in and making them a solid unit which loves to counter. As for Forest, Steve Cooper has done a fine job and after making about 327 new signings last summer (the real number is slightly higher) the squad has gelled and they should stay up.


The big winners, so far…

Brentford: A
Fulham: A
Newcastle: A+
Brighton: A+
Arsenal: A+

There are some real surprise packages this season and the positions of Brighton and Fulham (sixth and seventh respectively) is a shock. Roberto De Zerbi replaced Potter and added attacking swagger to the Seagulls who are so much fun to watch, while Marco Silva has turned new boys Fulham into a very efficient team who are horrible to play against. Brentford slot between Brighton and Fulham in terms of style of play and Thomas Frank is once again working miracles with Ivan Toney leading the charge as the Bees have recorded several huge wins, beating Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool already. But the story of the season is down to two teams: Newcastle and Arsenal. The former have gone on a long unbeaten run and may not be in the title race but are in the top four hunt. What a job Eddie Howe has done and Newcastle are tough to play against and are adding key players all the time. As for Arsenal, what can we say about the Gunners? Mikel Arteta has developed an incredible squad full of talented youngsters who are all pulling in the same direction. Arsenal sit top of the table and have answered every big question asked of them so far. They 100 percent look like they can be title winners. Can they kick on in the second half of the season and finish off the job?


Manchester United vs Reading: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester United looks to stay in the mix for a pair of domestic cups when it hosts old pal Paul Ince and Reading in the fourth round of the 2022 FA Cup on Saturday.

United scored a solid win at midweek to move within 90 minutes of the League Cup Final and of course also harbors hopes of winning the Europa League and, perhaps less so, the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

Reading sits 14th in the Championship, five points off the playoff places and fairly clear of the relegation mess.


Manchester United vs Reading, FA Cup fourth round: How to watch live, stream link

Kick off: 3pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: ESPN+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch 

Tom Ince, Paul’s son, is leading the club both in goals and assists, and sits among the leaders in pretty much everything else from tackles to completed dribbles.  Yakou Meite has also been a busy piece of what Reading has done well.

United’s stars are well-known, as Marcus Rashford continues to thrive at forward. Wout Weghorst picked up his first Man Utd goal at midweek and could be in line for more playing time while Anthony Martial recovers from injury.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

Manchester United won’t have Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek, and Jadon Sancho, while Luke Shaw is a question mark with an illness.

Reading team news, injuries, lineup options

Paul Ince’s bid to upset United will not include Naby Sarr, Sam Hutchinson, and old foe Andy Carroll.

2024 Copa America to be played in USA

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The United States will host the 2024 Copa America, which will once again feature six guest nations as part of a new “strategic collaboration agreement” announced by CONMEBOL and CONCACAF on Friday.

[ MORE: Report: Christian Pulisic wanted by AC Milan ]

Copa America last came to the U.S., in the summer of 2016 for Copa America Centenario, the 100-year celebration of the South American championship.

Back in 2016, the USMNT and Mexico were not required to qualify for the tournament, but the CONCACAF giants will not be given an automatic bid to Copa America 2024. They will also be forced to qualify as one of six CONCACAF through the 2023-24 Nations League. Previously, the other four bids from CONCACAF were awarded via various regional tournaments and and qualifying playoffs.

[ MORE: USMNT falls to Serbia in 2023 opener ]

The CONMEBOL-CONCACAF partnership also extends to the women’s game, where the Gold Cup is being revamped.

2024 CONCACAF W[omen’s] Gold Cup will include eight CONCACAF women’s national teams and four CONMEBOL guests

For women’s national teams, CONCACAF has invited the top four CONMEBOL national teams to participate in the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup. The inaugural edition of this 12-team tournament, which is a key part of CONCACAF’s new women’s national team ecosystem, will be played in the United States.

The two Concacaf teams that will participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics (United States and Jamaica or Canada) will qualify directly for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The remaining six Concacaf teams will be determined through the 2023 Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup.


2024 Copa America: What does it mean for USMNT?

First things first, it means playing more high-level, competitive games between World Cups. The USMNT has faced the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and other South American nations in friendlies over the years, but as things stand their only competitive fixtures come against CONCACAF competition — the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying.

The timing of the tournament is beneficial for all national teams involved as well, at the halfway point to the 2026 World Cup — also set to be hosted in the United States (and Mexico and Canada) — just as EURO 2024 is the halfway marker for European nations. The 2023 Gold Cup is still on the schedule for this summer, with the final to be played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Only time will tell if the combined Copa America will become the new norm in the Americas, but given what we know about the profitability of international soccer, there will certainly be a “cross your fingers and hope all goes well” vibe in 2024.

Follow @AndyEdMLS