Scouting Report: Colombia believes U.S. upset possible

Playing the game of comparative results gives Colombia a real chance to beat the United States Monday night in the Women’s World Cup round of 16.

Colombia stunned France, 2-0, in the group phase and France beat the USA by the same score four months ago in a friendly, so why can’t Las Chicas Superpoderosas claim another famous victory?

1. Past meetings raise tensions but make USA heavy favorite.

Forward Lady Andrade  believes a win is possible, and brazenly said so in an interview with USA Today: “We’re going to beat them because they like to talk so much,” Andrade said. “They belittle us. They think we’re a team they’re going to walk all over and it will be an easy game for them.”

The USA is heavily favored to beat Colombia for the third straight time in competitive play. After winning a 2011 Women’s World Cup group match, 3-0, it repeated the scoreline at the 2012 Olympic Games. In the latter game, Andrade sucker-punched Abby Wambach as they ran side-by-side up the field and was suspended for the rest of the tournament.

Nothing but cautious confidence has been emanating from the U.S. camp since this matchup was confirmed Wednesday when a 2-1 loss to England placed Colombia third in Group F and matched it against the USA as Group D winner.

Colombia fell back to earth after the stunning upset of France and though it improved in the second half against England it didn’t score until Andrade got her second goal of the competition deep into stoppage time.

“We didn’t play well in the first half,” said Colombia coach Fabian Taborda in his postgame press conference. “Our attitude just wasn’t right. We came up against a well-organized England team, and we found it very hard to play our usual passing game. It was only in the last few minutes of the first half that we began to look like ourselves again.

“We made some changes that gave us a different dynamic and made us look more dangerous, and in the second half we dominated England, who simply tried to defend and counterattack.”

2. Cafeteras are brimming with audacity and ability yet decidedly overmatched.

Defend and counter might be Colombia’s approach against the USA, which has only scored one goal in the past two games but looked a bit livelier while beating Nigeria, 1-0, on a superb volley by Wambach. Alex Morgan’s return to the starting lineup has added some flair to the attack; she and her teammates are addressing only their own preparation, not comments from opponents.

"We have respected every team we have played in the World Cup so far,” said Morgan. “We want to let our actions speak on the field.”

In roiling up the atmosphere for the U.S. game, Andrade might be using her own version of methods implemented by Colombia for this tournament. On its staff is sports psychologist, Dr. Angela Valero. She uses visualization and group dynamics to build confidence and cohesion. Many Colombian players are products of the team that finished fourth in 2010 at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, which is where that nickname – “The Supergirls” – originated.

“They’ve built up this image as real go-getters,” Valero told “They’re determined, intelligent, and big-hearted. That’s what these girls are all about.”

Andrade and her teammates are certainly brimming with audacity and ability yet Colombia is decidedly overmatched in several key areas. It won’t have its capable goalkeeper, Sandra Sepulveda, who survived 21 shots unscathed in the defeat of France but is suspended for the U.S. game; she tripped Jodie Taylor of England and picked up her second caution of the tournament.

3. Ellis has no decision to make in midfield.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis is expected to start Wambach and Morgan up top again and there’s no need to tamper with a back line that has been strong since enduring a few shaky moments in the opening game against Australia.

Tobin Heath started against Nigeria to little effect and Ellis might take a different tack even if she retains the regular midfield trio of Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. In the second group game, Morgan Brian played the first 58 minutes.

Christen Press started the first two games, the first in midfield and second at forward, and was replaced midway through the second half both times. She scored against Australia and even if a bit out of place on the wing could be a decisive factor against the aggressive, packed defense Colombia will probably deploy.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), 21-Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), 1-Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC).
DEFENDERS (8): 16-Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), 6-Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), 19-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 22-Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 5-Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), 3- Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), 4- Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City).
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), 14-Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), 12-Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), 9-Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City), 15- Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC).
FORWARDS (5): 2-Sydney Leroux (Western NY Flash), 13-Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), 23-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), 8-Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), 20- Abby Wambach (unattached).

Colombia Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Stefany Castano (Graceland Univ.), 12-Sandra Sepulveda (Formas Intimas), 22-Catalina Perez (Univ. of Miami).
DEFENDERS (5): 3-Natalia Gaitan (Gol Star), 5-Lina Granados (Abeleine Christian Univ.), 13-Angela Clavijo (Club Kamatsa), 14-Natalia Arias (Atlanta Silverbacks), 17-Carolina Arias (Generaciones Palmiranas).
MIDFIELDERS (9): 2-Carolina Arbelaez (Formas Intimas), 4-Diana Ospina (Formas Intimas), 6-Daniela Montoya (Formas Intimas), 8-Mildrey Pineda (Generaciones Palmiranas), 9-Orianica Velasquez (Gol Star), 10-Yoreli Rincon (Torres, Italy), 11-Catalina Usme (Formas Intimas), 19-Leicy Santos (Club Besser), 21-Isabella Echeverri (Univ. of Toledo).
FORWARDS (6): 7-Ingrid Vidal (Generaciones Palmiranas), 15-Tatiana Ariza (Gol Star), 16 Lady Andrade (Formas Intimas), 18-Yisela Cuesta (Formas Intimas), 20-Laura Cosme (Generaciones Palmiranas), 23-Manuela Alexandra (Generaciones Palmiranas).

6 comments about "Scouting Report: Colombia believes U.S. upset possible".
  1. R2 Dad, June 22, 2015 at 2:08 a.m.

    If ever there was the need for a Kari Seitz-level official at a match, this is it. You've got Columbia, which have historically played as physically as the officials have allowed:
    ...along with trash-talking, previous history and a knock-out match. We love Abby for her fire, but will she manage to contribute without getting pulled down to Columbia's level? There will be cards, but if they're for dissent FIFA will have sent the wrong officials to do this match.

  2. Chance Hall, June 22, 2015 at 8:42 a.m.

    Tonight's game could be a real test for the US Women. If Columbia comes out with a lot of physical play and trash talk, they will have to stay focused and play their game. If they don't, and they get distracted from their game plan, it could be a rough night for them. Let's go USA, focus on the win, and let's move on to the next round!!!

  3. Matt Cardillo, June 22, 2015 at 8:56 a.m.

    Translation: Colombia can be sucked into the red mist. Just don't retaliate.

  4. Aaron McDonald, June 22, 2015 at 9:02 a.m.

    I agree with R2 Dad. Officiating will play a large part in this match. There are a few sensitive school teacher types in this Cup, and I really hope they are kept miles away from this battle. This one needs sharp eyes and no nonsense.
    As far as Jill having no decision to make in the mid? Wow! She has a huge decision to make here! Lloyd and Holiday have been nothing but lack luster in Canada. I get that Boxx is up in years, but c'mon! Lloyd has played more for the opposition with the ball at her feet than the US. So much so, that Rapinoe is hesitant to make connections with her in the attacking 3rd. I call for a Rapinoe - Boxx - Heath - O'Reilly midline in a 4-1-3-2 with Boxx holding. Klingenberg - Johnston - Rampone - Krieger for the back. Rampone starts with her leadership and maturity to set the tone for how the US will react to the Colombian's brash play style. Saurbrunn to rest her in the 60th minute. Up top I call for the dynamic duo in an attempt to pull Abby this side of her slump and help keep her from getting too irate when they attempt to punish her. And we all know who's shutting the door. Just my thoughts...

  5. Santiago 1314, June 22, 2015 at 2:06 p.m.

    @ Aaron, ..You came to the same Conclusion I did. ...If we are going to have a chance to Win the World Cup; Boxx will have to Play in Ct. Mid...The problem is who do you put in there with her??? My Conclusion is Rampone...But I wouldn't start either one of them in this game...Neither one of them is capable of being 120 minutes versus Colombia, Then 120 versus China, THEN 120, When you really need them, versus Germany...

  6. Santiago 1314, June 22, 2015 at 2:19 p.m.

    From what I see, and the Vibes coming out of Colombia and China, they have Mentally, already conceded ONE Goal to USA "American Exceptionalism"...If we can't beat them with the Players we have been starting, we don't Deserve to Advance...But Definitely increase the Playing time for Boxx and Rampone...

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