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?
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 fifa.com. “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.
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).
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).