[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Nataly Arias had the choice of representing Colombia, Venezuela or the USA, but when it came time to choose, she was torn. Her father played professionally in Venezuela, but Colombia offered her an international future. The former University of Maryland star is one of five players from Colombia's Women's World Cup team with ties to U.S. colleges.
Captain Natalia Gaitan (Toledo), Tatiana Ariza (Austin Peay), Liana Salazar (Kansas) and Orianica Velasquez (Indiana) all hail from Colombia, which will meet the USA July 2 in Sinsheim.
Arias, on the other hand, grew up in Alexandria, Va.
"Around February 2010," said Arias, "my father approached me about the possibility of trying out for either the Venezuelan or Colombian national teams. Because he played professionally in Venezuela he had connections that helped to get me in contact with the national team coaches. Also he informed me that Colombia would be competing in the U-20 Women's World Cup in March 2010 and that it would be a good opportunity to see the players in action. After watching Colombia play in the U-20 Women's World Cup, I was even more excited at the prospect of getting a tryout. Venezuela did not give me the opportunity to tryout, but thankfully, Colombia gave me a 10-day tryout at the end of August 2010. Of course, during this time, I had to re-learn Spanish. I spoke Spanish as a child, but I had not used it daily and I was forced to learn fast! The girls loved to hear me speak English and they were great at teaching me Spanish. Luckily by the end of August, the coaching staff liked me enough to ask me back to camp in September and by mid October 2010, I had earned a spot on the final roster for qualifiers in Ecuador."
Colombia finished second at the South American championship to qualify for the Women's World Cup for the first time.
Colombia is led by 17-year-old Yoreli Rincon, one of five teenagers Coach Ricardo Rozo has taken to Germany.
Goalkeepers: Paula Forero (Gol Star), Sandra Sepulveda (Formas Intimas Medellin), Alejandra Velasco (Gol Star)
Defenders: Yuli Munoz (Estudiantes), Natalia Gaitan (Univ. of Toledo), Nataly Arias (Univ. of Maryland), Andrea Peralta (Estudiantes), Kelis Peduzine, Fatima Montano (Aguila Roja)
Midfielders: Diana Ospina (Formas Intimas Medellin), Daniela Montoya (Formas Intimas Medellin), Carmen Rodallega (Sarmiento), Yoreli Rincon (Gol Star), Liana Salazar (Univ. of Kansas), Yulieht Dominguez (Estudiantes), Tatiana Ariza (Austin Peay State Univ.), Orianica Velasquez (Indiana Univ.)
Forwards: Catalina Usme (Independiente Medellin), Lady Andrade (Liga Bogota), Ingrid Vidal (Generaciones Palmiranas), Katerin Castro (Estudiantes)