United States players celebrate after scoring against Australia. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- The United States can clinch a spot in the women’s field hockey quarterfinals with a victory over Japan on Wednesday.
The Americans, who already have wins over No. 2 Argentina and No. 3 Australia at the Olympics, have six points in Pool B. A win would guarantee a top four finish in the six-team pool.
This is a unique position for the United States, which hasn’t medaled since 1984. It’s the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games that the Americans have won more than one Olympic match.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction for us,” USA captain Lauren Crandall said.
Even with a loss, the Americans will have two more chances to clinch with matches against India and Britain remaining in pool play.
Britain leads the group based on goal differential, but that could change against Argentina on Wednesday. The Argentines proved themselves formidable with a 4-0 win over Japan on Monday.
Japan, ranked No. 10, needs points after a draw against India and the loss to Argentina. The Japanese have allowed six goals, the most in the pool, heading into Wednesday’s action.
Australia, one of the tournament favorites, is in last place in the pool with no points and has not played Argentina. The Hockeyroos face India on Wednesday.
Here are the standings in Pool B heading into Wednesday’s action, with goal differential:
Britain 2-0, 6 points, +4
United States 2-0, 6 points, +2
Argentina 1-1, 3 points, +3
India 0-1-1, 1 point, -3
Japan 0-1-1, 1 point, -4
Australia 0-0, 0 points, -2
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP.