If you ever find yourself in a heated debate over what team sport has the longest season, trust me, you’ll never lose if you say professional soccer clubs from Europe. For example, Bayern Munich (Germany) just arrived stateside for their U.S. tour while Arsenal (England) starts its exhibitions in California. If you are lucky enough to play for a big-time team like those and your home country’s national team, your off-season is almost non-existent these days.
USWNT Are Set to Begin Their Journey to Another Gold Medal
The world’s best women’s soccer team - The USWNT - is ready for the Rio Olympics as it blanked Costa Rica 4-0 on Friday at Kansas City in its final match before Brazil. The U.S. women are quite similar to the U.S. men’s basketball team in that they are no question the team to beat and it would be pretty shocking if they don’t win it all for the fifth time in the six times (including the last three in a row) that the Olympics has featured women’s soccer. The U.S. women open against New Zealand on Aug. 3 (6, NBCSN), then they face France on Aug.6 (4, NBCSN) and Colombia on Aug. 9 (6, NBCSN) in group play.
Can host Brazil Men’s Soccer Team Finally get the Job Done in Rio?
At least in the United States, the Olympic men’s soccer tournament figures to get much less coverage since our squad failed to make the 16-team field for the second time in a row. The usual suspects-Brazil, Colombia, Germany and Argentina-should win their respective groups while other powers like Mexico and Portugal figure to make some noise. Surprisingly enough, Brazil has never won the competition-they’ve won three silver medals including in 2012 when they fell to Mexico in the final.
Much Like the NBA and NHL, the Power in MLS Lies in the West
A quick gander at the MLS standings reveals a stark reality with the All-Star Game looming on Thursday (7:30, ESPN) vs. Arsenal at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium: the Western Conference is far superior to the Eastern Conference. The top three teams points wise are all residing in the West: FC Dallas (12-6-5), Colorado Rapids (10-2-8) and LA Galaxy (9-3-8). The East’s supposed top team NYCFC (9-7-6) is coming off an embarrassing 4-1 loss to its biggest rival-New York Red Bulls (9-9-4) on Sunday afternoon. Much can change in a few months but bet on a team from the West winning the 2016 MLS Cup this winter.
Follow Metro soccer writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate