What should I watch at the Olympics on Thu, Aug 11?

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

Now, what should I watch? It’s a universal question with a personal answer. I can’t tell you for sure what you’ll enjoy the most, but I can tell you what I think the best, most interesting events of the day are going to be. Listen to the podcast and follow along with the abridged schedule below. If you want to see a full schedule, check out today’s schedule and tomorrow’s schedule on Dear Sports Fan. If you’re on a phone, this Google Sheets link is your best bet.

Let me know if you enjoy what you see and hear and please, if you have a question as you’re watching, email dearsportsfan@gmail.com and I will reply!

What should I watch at the Olympics on Wed, Aug 10?

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

Now, what should I watch? It’s a universal question with a personal answer. I can’t tell you for sure what you’ll enjoy the most, but I can tell you what I think the best, most interesting events of the day are going to be. Listen to the podcast and follow along with the abridged schedule below. If you want to see a full schedule, check out today’s schedule and tomorrow’s schedule on Dear Sports Fan. If you’re on a phone, this Google Sheets link is your best bet.

Let me know if you enjoy what you see and hear and please, if you have a question as you’re watching, email dearsportsfan@gmail.com and I will reply!

What should I watch at the Olympics on Tue, Aug 9?

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

Now, what should I watch? It’s a universal question with a personal answer. I can’t tell you for sure what you’ll enjoy the most, but I can tell you what I think the best, most interesting events of the day are going to be. Listen to the podcast and follow along with the abridged schedule below. If you want to see a full schedule, check out today’s schedule and tomorrow’s schedule on Dear Sports Fan. If you’re on a phone, this Google Sheets link is your best bet.

Let me know if you enjoy what you see and hear and please, if you have a question as you’re watching, email dearsportsfan@gmail.com and I will reply!

What should I watch at the Olympics on Sun, Aug 7?

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

Now, what should I watch? It’s a universal question with a personal answer. I can’t tell you for sure what you’ll enjoy the most, but I can tell you what I think the best, most interesting events of the day are going to be. Listen to the podcast and follow along with the abridged schedule below. If you want to see a full schedule, check out today’s schedule and tomorrow’s schedule on Dear Sports Fan. If you’re on a phone, this Google Sheets link is your best bet.

 

Let me know if you enjoy what you see and hear and please, if you have a question as you’re watching, email dearsportsfan@gmail.com and I will reply!

What should I watch at the Olympics on Sat, Aug 6?

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!

Now, what should I watch? It’s a universal question with a personal answer. I can’t tell you for sure what you’ll enjoy the most, but I can tell you what I think the best, most interesting events of the day are going to be. Listen to the podcast and follow along with the abridged schedule below. If you want to see a full schedule, check out today’s schedule and tomorrow’s schedule on Dear Sports Fan. If you’re on a phone, this Google Sheets link is your best bet.

 

Let me know if you enjoy what you see and hear and please, if you have a question as you’re watching, email dearsportsfan@gmail.com and I will reply!

What's new with the USWNT at the Summer Olympics in Rio?

The last we heard from the United States Women’s National Soccer team on a world stage, they were grinning ear to ear and getting showered with confetti after dominating Japan to win the 2015 World Cup. Only a year later, that team is gone, replaced by a new one that’s (believe it or not) younger, deeper, and stronger. The United States entered the 2015 World Cup as one of the three or four favorites along with Germany, France, and eventual runner’s up, Japan. Five Thirty Eight actually predicted that Germany was the slightly stronger team. The situation coming into the Olympics is different. The United States is perceived as being way ahead of its rivals — expected to win the gold medal. So, what happened? Is this simply a case of recency bias? Are we blinded by that last image of our triumphant heroes? What, exactly has changed? To answer these questions, let’s take a quick look at each unit on the soccer field – goaltenders, defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

Goaltenders

Hope Solo is still the best goalie in the world, and her backup, Alyssa Naeher has a reasonable claim at being second. Gone from the World Cup roster is Ashlyn Harris. This is no knock on Harris, but Olympic rosters are only 18 players as opposed to 23 for the World Cup, so there’s no reason to carry three goalies. The United States will have an advantage in goal versus every team they play in this tournament.

Defenders

The 2015 World Cup team was quietly led from behind by a near-unbreakable back four. Center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston anchored the unit while Meghan Klingenberg and Ali Krieger womaned the wings. They were awesome! I wanted to make helvetica style t-shirts with just their last names on the front. Amazingly, just a year later, one member of this fearsome foursome has been supplanted in the starting lineup. Ali Krieger has been replaced by Kelly O’Hara. You may remember O’Hara from the World Cup semifinals against Germany. She came into the game as a sub (apparently Coach Jill Ellis described her own decision making process as, “we need a bitch, get O’Hara”) and scored a goal in the 84th minute to salt the game away. O’Hara is a more attack minded player than Krieger (she was on the World Cup roster as a midfielder) and her ascension to the starting lineup is partially a recognition that the United States is likely to be doing a lot more attacking in this tournament than actual defense. O’Hara is also five years younger than the 32 year old Krieger, and it’s just possible that she’s a step faster at this point. Krieger will be joined on the bench by the smooth defensive defender, Whitney Engen. Engen was on the World Cup roster as well but didn’t get into a game. Gone are elder stateswomen Lori Chalupny and Christie Rampone. The team will miss their presence but not their play.

Midfielders

The biggest on-field loss from the World Cup team has got to be the early retirement of Lauren Holiday. One of the most insightful (literally) playmakers in the world, there’s no one on this team who can see a play develop and pass the ball as well as Holiday. If there’s anything positive about Holiday’s retirement, it’s that it makes the still crowded midfield picture a tiny less cloudy than it would be otherwise. You can pencil World Cup monster Carli Lloyd into the starting lineup. After rehabbing a knee injury between tournaments, she’ll be back at full strength, doing what she does best — scoring enormous goals in enormous games. In case you don’t remember or weren’t following the team before 2015, Lloyd scored both goals in the 2012 gold medal match to beat Japan 2-1 and the only goal in the 2008 gold medal match to beat China 1-0. Lloyd is the epitome of clutch. She’ll be joined on the field by a defensive midfielder. Morgan Brian is the first choice for this position but has been having some nagging hamstring issues. If she can’t go, Allie Long will replace her. Long is new to the team and is well deserving of a spot. She’s a more traditional defensive midfielder than Brian. At 5’8″, she’s only an inch taller than Brian, but she plays a much more physical game. In the other two midfield spots, Tobin Heath and Lindsay Horan are the two most likely starters. Tobin Heath is a shoe-in for the most improved player since last year. Known for a long time as an insanely skilled player on the ball, Heath has grown measurably since the World Cup in other aspects of the game. I’d now rank her as one of the best and most well rounded players in the world. She’ll strike fear in her opponent’s hearts every time she touches the ball. Horan is new to the team. She’s a strange mixture of Holiday-lite passing ability with Wambach-lite destructive aerial attacking ability near the goal. Everyone’s favorite player, Meghan Rapinoe just barely made the team after frantically rehabbing a torn ACL for most of the time between the World Cup and Olympics. She’ll come off the bench as a substitute. Missing from last year’s team, in addition to Holiday, are the retired Shannon Boxx and Heather O’Reilly.

Forwards

Only the United States could lose the greatest striker of all time Abby Wambach… and get better. Wambach’s long time offensive partner Alex Morgan is in better form this year than she was last. She’s fully healthy and has seemingly found the scoring touch that she misplaced during the World Cup. She’s joined by two new dynamic weapons: Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh. Dunn was the last woman left off the World Cup team last year and she’s played like a woman possessed ever since. She led the National Women’s Soccer League in scoring and was named the NWSL’s most valuable player to boot. At 5’1″, she’s all speed and explosiveness. Mallory Pugh may be the most exciting addition to the team. Given what seemed like a “nice story” type of opportunity to play with the USWNT as an 18 year-old, she grabbed the opportunity by the throat and has not let go. At times, she’s looked simply like the best player on the field. As weird as it is to write this about a player so young, there aren’t really any holes in her game. She’s skilled, fast, has a great scoring touch, and looks entirely comfortable on the field with women much older and more experienced than her. Rounding out the strikers is Christen Press. Everyone, myself included, thought that Press was going to be the break out star of the 2015 World Cup. Instead, she got locked out of the starting lineup and barely played. Alas, I fear her fate could be the same in this tournament. It’s a shame, because Press is a player capable of transcendent moments, but she may not be able to get onto the field enough to show us any. Missing from the World Cup team, in addition to Wambach, is Sydney Leroux, who is pregnant, and Amy Rodriguez, who simply couldn’t make the team with the worthy additions of Pugh and Dunn.

Okay, I’m ready. How do I watch?

The United States plays their first game of the Olympics tonight, Wednesday, August 3, against New Zealand at 6 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC Sports Network. They play against France on Saturday, August 6, at 4 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC Sports Network and NBC Universo. The USWNT’s final group stage game will be Tuesday, August 9, at 6 p.m. ET against Colombia with coverage on NBC Sports Network and NBC Universo.

How to plan for the week of Mar 14 – 20, 2016

If you are a sports fan or if you live with a sports fan then your weekly schedule becomes inextricably linked with what sporting events are on at what times during each week. The conflict between missing a sporting event for a poorly committed to social event and missing an appealing social event to watch a game is an important balancing act in any kind of romantic, familial, or business relationship between a sports fan and a non-sports fan. To help facilitate this complicated advanced mathematics, Dear Sports Fan has put together a table showing the most important sporting events of the upcoming week. Print it out, put it on your fridge, and go through it with your scheduling partner.

For full coverage of all the NHL and NBA games, see our NHL forecast and NBA forecast.

Download a full-size copy here.

Tuesday: The hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers is not single elimination, like the play in games to the men’s NCAA Championship is, but it’s almost as big. These two teams are fighting for the last playoff spot in the east with only a dozen games remaining.

Wednesday: Soccer in the afternoon, basketball at night. What more could you want? Oh, right, silly question given what’s coming tomorrow…

Thursday: THE FIRST DAY OF MARCH MADNESS IS ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS DAYS OF THE YEAR!! FIND A WAY TO GET OFF OF WORK! OR STREAM THERE.

Friday: Date night! Which you will, of course, spend watching the second 16 games of March Madness. Some years, these are even better than the first. Sip wine as your bracket gets totally busted.

Saturday: You’ve seen all the teams once, now you get to watch the winners from the first two days play each other. Some of your favorites will be eliminated. Sad times. Some of your favorites will move on, fun times!

Sunday: Mix a little bit of Manchester vs. Manchester soccer and Crosby vs. Ovechkin hockey into the last day of the first weekend of March Madness, and you’ve got a superlative Sunday of sports.

Caveat — This forecast is optimized for the general sports fan, not a particular sports fan. As such, your mileage may vary. For instance, you or the sports fan in your life is a fan of a particular team, then a regular season MLB baseball game or MLS soccer game may be more important on a particular day than anything on the forecast above. Use the calendar as a way to facilitate conversation about scheduling, not as the last word on when there are sports to watch.

How to plan for the week of Mar 7 – 13, 2016

If you are a sports fan or if you live with a sports fan then your weekly schedule becomes inextricably linked with what sporting events are on at what times during each week. The conflict between missing a sporting event for a poorly committed to social event and missing an appealing social event to watch a game is an important balancing act in any kind of romantic, familial, or business relationship between a sports fan and a non-sports fan. To help facilitate this complicated advanced mathematics, Dear Sports Fan has put together a table showing the most important sporting events of the upcoming week. Print it out, put it on your fridge, and go through it with your scheduling partner.

For full coverage of all the NHL and NBA games, see our NHL forecast and NBA forecast.

Download a full-size copy here.

Monday: As is the trend this week, the majority of our sports action today is in college basketball, both men’s and women’s. Two minor men’s conference championship games and two major women’s championship games lead the way.

Tuesday: Sticking its nose into the college basketball party is Champions League soccer. Real Madrid come into their game against Roma knowing that the only thing that can eliminate them is a loss by two or more goals. This could lead to a boring, defensive game from some teams, but Real Madrid seems constitutionally unable to resist putting on a show. Back at home, there are a few more college basketball championship games, including the women’s Big East finals.

Wednesday: The two Champions League matches on TV today are less star-studded than yesterday’s but significantly closer. Chelsea hosts PSG knowing that a 1-0 win is enough to advance. A similar situation holds in Russia for the Zenit vs. Benfica match where Benfica holds a 1-0 aggregate lead. Of more interest, perhaps, to many American soccer fans is a friendly match between the U.S. women’s national team and Germany in the SheBelieves Cup. This is a rematch of the 2015 World Cup semifinals which the U.S. won 2-0.

Thursday: The Europa League doesn’t have the cache of the Champions League but when giant English teams like Liverpool and Manchester United are involved, it still feels like a big deal. Closer to home, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have any cache anymore, which is why I’ve been holding their games off the sports calendar for most of the year. But you know what? The week after they became only the sixth team all season to beat the Golden State Warriors, they deserve to be here.

Friday: Date night! Are you in a college basketball relationship? If so, you’re in luck. If not, maybe bank some good favor and have a non-sports related date tonight. March Madness is coming soon…

Saturday: There are a flurry of men’s college basketball conference championships today. All of them are worth watching but counter-intuitively, it’s sometimes the ones from the smaller leagues that are the most fun. Leagues that only get one or two spots in the overall NCAA tournament, really raise the stakes of their championship games.

Sunday: Sunday is always a great sporting day, but it does feel a little like we’re just killing time here, waiting for the next big thing to start happening.

Caveat — This forecast is optimized for the general sports fan, not a particular sports fan. As such, your mileage may vary. For instance, you or the sports fan in your life is a fan of a particular team, then a regular season MLB baseball game or MLS soccer game may be more important on a particular day than anything on the forecast above. Use the calendar as a way to facilitate conversation about scheduling, not as the last word on when there are sports to watch.

How to plan for the week of Feb 29 – March 6, 2016

If you are a sports fan or if you live with a sports fan then your weekly schedule becomes inextricably linked with what sporting events are on at what times during each week. The conflict between missing a sporting event for a poorly committed to social event and missing an appealing social event to watch a game is an important balancing act in any kind of romantic, familial, or business relationship between a sports fan and a non-sports fan. To help facilitate this complicated advanced mathematics, Dear Sports Fan has put together a table showing the most important sporting events of the upcoming week. Print it out, put it on your fridge, and go through it with your scheduling partner.

For full coverage of all the NHL and NBA games, see our NHL forecast and NBA forecast.

Download a full-size copy here.

Monday: The New York Rangers will be debuting their new toy, former long-time captain of the Carolina Hurricanes who they traded for this weekend.

Tuesday: The Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin have been rivals for a decade now. This year, Ovechkin is the leader of the by far the best team during the regular season so far. Still, when he looks in his trophy cabinet, he’s missing the two biggest prizes, the Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold, both of which Crosby has. Every time these teams meet, it’s worth watching.

Wednesday: It’s time to start scouting men’s college basketball teams for March Madness. Keep an eye on Miami, who could make or break your bracket. Watch them play against Notre Dame tonight.

Thursday: Around this time of the year, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team is usually in Portugal playing in the Algarve Cup. This year, taking advantage of the attention from last year’s World Cup, the U.S. team organized a new exhibition/tournament in the United States with three of the other top five teams in the world: France, Germany, and tonight’s opponent, England.

Friday: Date night! Spice up your ordinary Friday night date with some Rugby Sevens — the fastest sport (played with an oblong ball) on two feet!

Saturday: Duke and North Carolina is the greatest men’s college basketball rivalry and they just played a doozy of a game a few weeks ago. Expect the rematch to be twice as intense and hope for it to be half as close.

Sunday: Major League Soccer begins its 2016 schedule today but it’s women sports that are going to steal the day. Two championship games in college basketball and another USWNT game should draw more eyes than anything else today.

Caveat — This forecast is optimized for the general sports fan, not a particular sports fan. As such, your mileage may vary. For instance, you or the sports fan in your life is a fan of a particular team, then a regular season MLB baseball game or MLS soccer game may be more important on a particular day than anything on the forecast above. Use the calendar as a way to facilitate conversation about scheduling, not as the last word on when there are sports to watch.

How to plan for the week of Feb 22 – 28, 2016

If you are a sports fan or if you live with a sports fan then your weekly schedule becomes inextricably linked with what sporting events are on at what times during each week. The conflict between missing a sporting event for a poorly committed to social event and missing an appealing social event to watch a game is an important balancing act in any kind of romantic, familial, or business relationship between a sports fan and a non-sports fan. To help facilitate this complicated advanced mathematics, Dear Sports Fan has put together a table showing the most important sporting events of the upcoming week. Print it out, put it on your fridge, and go through it with your scheduling partner.

For full coverage of all the NHL and NBA games, see our NHL forecast and NBA forecast.

Download a full-size copy here.

Tuesday: All hail the Champions League. No, really, if you enjoy soccer, you’ll want to watch the game today. Barcelona is the world’s most fun offensive soccer team and Arsenal should pose just enough of a challenge to them to make them sweat a little. Columbus, Ohio is the closest NHL city to Detroit, so the Red Wings and Blue Jackets should eventually have a pretty good rivalry. Tonight could be the day it starts developing. In men’s college basketball, the second best team in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks, travel to Baylor to play the 19th ranked Bears.

Wednesday: Here’s a tiny piece of trivia that I find endlessly interesting: the common Eastern European soccer club name, “Dynamo” is left over from when government agencies sponsored the teams and refers to a team sponsored by the secret police. Dynamo Kiev takes on Manchester City in the Champions league. In men’s college basketball, number 1 ranked Villanova plays at number five ranked Xavier in what, by the numbers, should be the best game of the week. There’s also a double-header of NHL games on NBCSN with the first game a doozy between two teams who think of themselves as championship contenders but are struggling to make the playoffs, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thursday: The Nashville Predators fans feel their team is consistently one piece away from winning a Stanley Cup. Usually, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks who have that piece. As such, games between these teams get heated. In the NBA, there’s an excellent double-header on TNT. The first game in particular, pits three of the most elementally great basketball players in the league against each other.

Friday: Date night! If you’re a brainy couple, you might be interested in Harvard vs. Yale’s men’s college basketball game. If you’re hockeyish, you might enjoy the men’s college hockey game between Notre Dame and Boston University. If you’re date-less, settle down to watch an NBA double-header because there’s really no reason to plan a date around a mid-season NBA game.

Saturday: Soccer and basketball, basketball and soccer. If I had to choose one game in each sport to watch, I’d pick the battle of Madrid in soccer and Oklahoma City vs. Golden State in basketball. Plan accordingly.

Sunday: The NHL game today is a great one. The Washington Capitals are having the best regular season in memory. The Chicago Blackhawks are as close to a dynasty as we get in the modern NHL era. It’s regular season greatness vs. proven playoff ability and the game probably means a lot to both teams.

Caveat — This forecast is optimized for the general sports fan, not a particular sports fan. As such, your mileage may vary. For instance, you or the sports fan in your life is a fan of a particular team, then a regular season MLB baseball game or MLS soccer game may be more important on a particular day than anything on the forecast above. Use the calendar as a way to facilitate conversation about scheduling, not as the last word on when there are sports to watch.