NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19: Team USA soccer player Rachel Buehler enters the "Good Morning America" taping at the ABC Times Square Studios on July 19, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
San Diegan Rachel Buehler will begin her Olympic journey Wednesday, two days before the Opening Ceremony.
Soccer is one of two sports that start early -- archery is the other -- because the extra days are needed to play a sufficient slate of games that doesn't wear out the players.
The Americans start group play against France at historic Hampden Park, the only Scottish venue for the Summer Games.
Some 37,000 fans are expected for the U.S.-France, Colombia-North Korea doubleheader in the 52,000-seat stadium, but organizers say about 80 percent of the tickets were freebies given to schools and local clubs because women's soccer isn't much of a draw in these parts.
The two-time defending champs will have to make the gold-medal game to be assured of playing in London, and they won't be attending Friday's opening ceremony because they have an afternoon game against Colombia in Glasgow the next day.
"It's too much on the body and the mind to fly back and forth. The focus is on the games and that's the most important thing," captain Christie Rampone said. "I would love for this team to experience an Opening Ceremony because you kind of get that feeling of what the actual games are all about, with all the other countries and meeting different athletes from your own country. At the same time, getting to start it off with that first match of the Olympics is something special as well. We'll celebrate it together, and watch the opening ceremonies."
Starting early means a quicker end to the agonizing wait, which is a good thing for the Americans. They've been training in Glasgow for a week after spending the previous week in Darlington, England, and they've become a bit antsy.
"You can feel the tension start to rise," goalkeeper Hope Solo said. "It's a good, positive energy, and people are going into tackles harder. It's like 'unleash the beast.' We're waiting for somebody to unleash us."