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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)

Arsenal moves past Bournemouth to reach FA Cup fifth round

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Bukayo Saka had a goal and an assist as Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-1 in FA Cup fourth round action on Monday.

The result seals another trip to the South Coast, as the Gunners will visit Portsmouth in the fifth round.

Saka and Eddie Nketiah were the goal scorers as Arsenal did the job without Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and David Luiz in the Starting XI.

Sam Surrridge scored for Bournemouth in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. That gave a tension to the other four minutes of stoppage which did not exist in the rest of the match.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Saka drifted into the 18 to wallop a Gabriel Martinelli layoff into the upper reaches of the goal, the ball zipping from post-to-post with fury.

The 18-year-old Saka picked up an assist on Arsenal’s second goal, his cross seeing its way to Nketiah for a straight-forward finish in the heart of the 18.

Saka now has three goals and six assists in 23 appearances for Arsenal this season.

It wasn’t strictly positives for the Gunners, as Shkrodan Mustafi was stretchered off with an injury in the 62nd minute.

Bournemouth got one back when Simon Francis‘ cross was dummied by Dan Gosling, Surridge using a clever touch to set up his shot past Emiliano Martinez.

It’s Surridge’s first senior goal for Bournemouth, though the 21-year-old has managed 29 goals between Yeovil Town, Swansea City, and Oldham Athletic.

Ten possible transfers to monitor this week

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It’s been an active-enough transfer window from a wide perspective. Manchester United, Chelsea, and fans of other contenders may still be waiting for their breakthrough, but there’s been a lot to see world wide.

[ MORE: Deadline Day needs ]

Erling Haaland has a new home, and his housewarming party has been spectacular. Javier Hernandez headed from Sevilla to Major League Soccer.

Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool from Salzburg, and Gedson Fernandes found a home at Tottenham.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

So what’s still (possibly) to come before the transfer window slams shut at 6 p.m. ET Friday?

Aaron Long from New York Red Bulls to West HamA loan-to-buy bid’s been rejected, but could David Moyes skip the trial period. USMNT center back Long wants to go the Premier League, and RBNY are not in the CONCACAF Champions League so there’s time to replace him.

Antonee Robinson from Wigan Athletic to AC Milan — Speaking of USMNT-related transfers, could-be left back of the future has become a fixture at the DW Stadium but reports of his replacing Ricardo Rodriguez at Milan are many.

Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund to Newcastle — The Magpies need another striker with Joelinton struggling to find form, and the BVB man is open to leaving on account of Haaland’s arrival.

Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United — A difference of $12 million seems likely to be made up by Friday.

Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Chelsea — He’s thrived at Fulham in the Championship, Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, and Lyon in Ligue 1, so the Premier League may finally get to see a mature Dembele. He made two appearances for Fulham in 2013/14.

Mykola Matviyenko from Shakhtar Donetsk to Arsenal — Twenty-two years old with 26 caps for Ukraine, reports of a try-it-before-you-buy-it with the Gunners seem very friendly to Arsenal.

Boubakary Soumare from Lille to Chelsea or Manchester United — Sixty-six senior appearances for a Ligue 1 side at age 20 is an eye-popper, and Soumare’s ceiling as a defensive midfielder is high.

Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Gerrmain to Atletico Madrid or Chelsea — The reports have all said Atleti is the front-runner, but the longer is takes the more you wonder…

Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli to Manchester United — Not in January with Napoli a month away from Barcelona in the UCL, right? Right?

Gareth Bale,  Krzysztof Piatek, Willian Jose, Mario Gotze, Steven Bergwijn, Alcacer, pretty much forward to Spurs — Self-explanatory. Spurs are transfer rumor bait as much as anyone not called Manchester United thanks to the injury to Harry Kane and the clear need for refreshment.

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

FA Cup fifth round draw

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The draw for the FA Cup fifth round has been made and a potential clash between Chelsea and Liverpool has been set up.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

If Liverpool’s youngsters (sans Jurgen Klopp and their first team) get past third-tier Shrewsbury Town in their fourth round replay they will travel to Chelsea, while holders Man City will travel to second tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Man United will travel to either Northampton Town or Derby County as they could face former United legend Wayne Rooney, while Portsmouth (the lowest ranked team left in the competition) will host either Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will host Norwich City in the only guaranteed all-Premier League last 16 clash.

To help ease fixture congestion for Premier League clubs and due to their week off for a mid-season player break (even if if didn’t work out like that for Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle United due to fourth round replays) the fifth round will be played across three midweek evenings on Mar. 3-5.

There will also be no replays from the fifth round onwards in the FA Cup, as the games will go to extra time and penalty kicks, if needed, if the scores are level.

Below is the draw in full for the fifth round.


Sheffield Wednesday v. Manchester City
Reading or Cardiff City v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Shrewsbury Town or Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v. Newcastle United or Oxford United
Leicester City v. Coventry City or Birmingham City
Northampton Town or Derby County v. Manchester United
Southampton or Tottenham Hotspur v. Norwich City
Portsmouth v. Bournemouth or Arsenal

LIVE, FA Cup: Bournemouth v. Arsenal

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Bournemouth host Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday (kick off, 3 p.m. ET) as the Cherries and Gunners will both fancy their chances of a lengthy cup run.

[ LIVE: Follow Bournemouth-Arsenal ]

In all honesty, both Eddie Howe and Mikel Arteta could do without this game as they aim to improve their position in the Premier League table.

Bournemouth picked up a vital win against Brighton last time out to push themselves out of the bottom three, while Arsenal picked up a morale-boosting draw at Chelsea after playing for over an hour with 10 men.

Howe and Arteta will acknowledge that their main aim is to stay in the Premier League and finish in the top four respectively but both will be extremely tough in the final months of the season.

It is always tough to strike the balance about how serious to take the FA Cup for teams in tough situations in the PL but more often than not the competition is a bit of a distraction for players as league form goes out of the window.

Arteta’s first game in charge of Arsenal was a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth in December and this will be a tight, tough game down in the wind and rain on the England’s south coast.

Success in cup competitions will likely save Arsenal’s dismal season as Arteta’s banged up side have shown plenty of hunger in recent weeks and an FA Cup and Europa League double would certainly salvage plenty of pride from the 2019-20 campaign.

That said, there is still a long, long way to go for Arsenal.

Click on the link above to follow the action as it happens, while we have you covered right here on Pro Soccer Talk with the reaction and analysis on the final game of the fourth round.