International soccer will return to Brazil two years after the World Cup thanks to the 2016 Olympics. And it will do so in six World Cup stadiums, as well as the Olympic Stadium.
FIFA confirmed on Monday that the Olympics will be played in six cities around Brazil and that all of the venues besides but the Olympic Stadium will be ones used at the World Cup. They did not announce a match schedule or which stadium will host the final, semifinals, opening match or anything of the sort.
The Maracana and Olympic Stadium will be host stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, while the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, the Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia, the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, the Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador and the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo will host matches elsewhere.
Including Manaus helps spread the tournament across the country, but as was the case at the World Cup, that means a lot of extra travel, heat and humidity because of the trip to the Amazon. Some thought that Manaus would be left out for that reason, while there was also concern that Sao Paulo would be omitted because of cost concerns, but both made the cut.
The United States played in both Manaus and Salvador at the World Cup so they have some experience there as a federation, even if few players from the World Cup team will be on the (mostly) U-23 Olympic team. On top of that, the U-23s played a friendly against Brazil in Brasilia last October, so that is additional experience.
Qualifying for the Olympics will take place this fall. The U.S. is hosting the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and the Americans are a talented squad so they will be big favorites to book their ticket to Brazil, but they were also favorites four years ago and failed to make it.
The Olympics are an U-23 tournament. Teams are allowed three overage players as well, but those overage players cannot participate in qualifying.