By Travis Clark
While the focus of most U.S. Soccer fans is firmly on the women’s team at the London Olympics, the men’s competition is flying a bit under the radar thanks to our U23 team’s earlier failure. Don’t neglect what has been a relatively exciting competition, though.
Despite Spain’s surprising failure to win a game in the group stages, there’s been plenty of entertainment. Mexico and Honduras, the two CONCACAF nations in London, have represented our federation well as both secured a spot in the quarterfinal stage. While it was expected for the former, Honduras advancing was a shock and it’s also been a chance for MLS players like Roger Espinoza and Andy Najar to showcase themselves on the international level.
There’s also been the decent performance of Great Britain, competing for the first time in more than 40 years and winning its group; and Egypt, as they continue to recover from the horrific soccer tragedy of more than a year ago.
But the best reason to watch the knockout rounds – and the team that is the overwhelming gold medal favorite – is Brazil. Not only do the Selacao possess the hottest young star in Neymar, but the team is incredibly motivated having never won the Olympics’ highest honor. And because the nation is the 2014 World Cup host, the pressure is on to deliver and use this as a tuneup.
So, if you’re waiting for the start of college season, or want a little international flavor in your soccer, don’t miss out on the Brazilians as they look to samba their way onto the podium. It’ll be fun – I promise you that.