The good news for the U.S. women's soccer team is that it should have no trouble reaching the Olympic quarterfinals. The bad news: The Americans must play an extra game.
Yesterday's draw in Athens reflected the uneven format. Ten teams were put into three groups. The United States was grouped with Brazil, Australia and Greece while the other two groups have three teams apiece.
Teams in the U.S. group must play three games in seven days to complete the first round. Teams in the other groups will play two games in seven days.
FIFA, the world governing body, had added a quarterfinal round. That means the first round essentially exists to eliminate just two teams, reducing the field from 10 to eight for the start of single-elimination play.
That's where being in the group with Greece helps the United States. The Greeks are in the tournament because they are the host nation, and will be favored to finish last in the group.
The Americans open on the island of Crete, facing Greece at Iraklion on Aug. 11, two days before the Opening Ceremony.
The United States then gets a break with the next two games in the same city, Thessaloniki, eliminating a travel day. The Americans play Brazil on Aug. 14 and wrap up the first round in Group G against Australia on Aug. 17.
The strongest group is F, pitting World Cup champion Germany, perennial power China and up-and-coming Mexico.
Sweden will be favored in the other group, Group E, which includes Japan and Nigeria.
The men are in four groups of four. Greece, South Korea, Mali and Mexico are in Group A. Paraguay, Japan, Ghana and Italy are in Group B. Argentina, Serbia-Montenegro, Tunisia and Australia are in Group C. Iraq, Costa Rica, Morocco and Portugal are in Group D.
* DIVING: Troy and Justin Dumais dominated three-meter synchronized diving at the U.S. trials in St. Peters, Mo. On the women's side, Sara Hildebrand and Cassandra Cardinell led favorites Laura Wilkinson and Kimiko Soldati after the prelims of platform synchro. The final is tonight.
* FENCING: The Algerian men's saber team will compete in Athens after the sport's international governing body realized it had mistakenly offered a vacant spot to Germany. Germany was offered the chance after Egypt withdrew last week. However, vacant spots must go to a team from the same continent as the team that pulls out.
* DRUG TESTING: The United States will increase its funding to the World Anti-Doping Agency to $1.45 million. WADA is an international organization that receives $10 million a year from the Olympic Movement and world governments.