The U.S. women begin their quest for Olympic gold today when they open group play against New Zealand (5 p.m. CT, NBCSN).
Here are five oddities, curiosities, or (possibly) interesting facts about the match and its participants:
New Zealand is participating in its third Olympic women’s soccer tournament, having played in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. In 2008, the Football Ferns failed to survive the group stage. In 2012, they made it to the knockout stage before being eliminated by the United States, the eventual gold medalists.
The U.S. women have not only qualified for every Olympics since women’s football became a medal sport in 1996; they have made it to the championship game every time, winning the gold medal in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012, and the silver medal in 2000.
New Zealand is ranked No. 17 in the world. The United States is No. 1.
When the United States played New Zealand in the 2008 Olympics, Heather O’Reilly scored 40 seconds into the match. That is still the quickest goal in Olympic history. The Americans went on to win 4-0.
Team USA is 14-0-1 in 2016. Of those 14 wins, 13 have been shutouts.