It’s time for a rematch.
Three years ago, in the London Olympics, Colombia striker Lady Andrade punched – literally punched – U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach in the eye. Now, the two will meet again when the USWNT and Colombia square off in the round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup.
It’s a matchup that has already drawn headlines, and even a little bit of trash talk. But while the United States is the odds-on favorite to advance, Colombia presents a handful of its own challenges, the least of which include throwing more punches.
Here’s what you need to know about the Colombia national team:
1. Colombia Pulled Off One of the Biggest Upsets in World Cup History
It was the upset no one saw coming and one of the biggest moments in the history of women’s soccer.
Colombia used a strong first-half performance and shutdown play in stoppage time, to record a 2-0 victory over France in Group F pool play last week. Lady Andrade scored the game’s first goal while Catalina Usme added the buffer in the game’s final minutes.
France came into the game ranked third in the world and the game was not without it share of controversy. A fairly obvious handball in the penalty area by Colombia midfielder Daniela Montoya was not called and allowed the team to maintain its one-goal lead during regulation time.
2. Lady Andrade Predicted a Colombia Victory Earlier This Week
Colombia standout Lady Adrade did not shy away from creating a bit of controversy ahead of the matchup against the United States.
She told USA Today that Colombia would defeat the favorite in the round of 16, once again recording a World Cup upset victory:
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. We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much.
Andrade even predicted the final score, although she wasn’t exactly specific, it will either be a 2-1 or 1-0 victory. The claims of trash talking left the U.S. slightly confused though, particularly since the two teams have not played each other since 2012.
3. Andrade Punched Abby Wambach in the Face in 2012 & Drew a Two-Game Suspension
Andrade’s history with the U.S. goes way beyond the, assumption, of trash talking during this summer’s Wold Cup. The 23-year-old midfielder rose to fame stateside in 2012 when she sucker-punched USWNT standout Abby Wambach in the face during an Olympics match.
Andrade and Wambach were fighting for possession when the Colombia player lifted her arm directly into Wambach’s face, earning her a two-game suspension. The ruling came after the Olympic officials neglected to make a call in-game and actually only halted play when they noticed Wambach on the ground with her eyes shut.
While Wambach called the play an attempt to get her to retaliate, Andrade called the play an accident and said “nothing happened.”
4. Starting Goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda is Suspended for the Game Against the U.S.
Although Adrade was certainly confident in her team’s chances at a victory on Monday evening, there is one big question mark for the Colombia squad; who will be in net.
Usual starter Sandra Sepulveda is suspended for the match against the U.S. in the round of 16 after racking up a pair of yellow cards in pool play. The second, and suspension-inducing, yellow card came in the 85th minute against England last Wednesday when Sepulveda was whistled for clipping Jodie Taylor. It’s a big-time loss for Colombia, particularly after Sepulveda recorded a shutout against France in game two of the World Cup, recording 21 saves.
Colombia will turn to backup keepers Stefany Castaño and Catalina Perez, both of whom perfected their soccer skills in the U.S. Colombia manger Fabian Taborda was evasive about which player he would choose to start during the team’s press conference on Sunday:
[We have three] good goalkeepers, which allows us to make different decisions. Stefany Castaño is a great goalkeeper. We then have Sandra Sepulveda; she had a very good performance. And if tomorrow we have another one, most likely [Perez] will perform just as well. That gives our staff peace of mind, because we have very good goalkeepers.
5. Colombia is Coached by Fabian Taborda
The Colombia coach has developed a reputation on the international circuit as one of the most fair and dedicated managers in the game. He has extensive experience in the youth game and has used that to his advantage working with a young Colombia squad.
He told FIFA.com:
I guess I’m seen as a very professional coach and as a good person too. In the past I took charge of groups of students and now here I am coaching a national team and trying to pass on all my knowledge. Having been a teacher certainly helps a lot with my current job.
Taborda, who was actually once a PE teacher, has risen through the ranks of the Colombia program, most recently with the U-17 national team. That’s created a long-standing relationship with many of the Colombia players and fostered a strong relationship with the coach and his roster.
You can find photo galleries and profiles on several Colombian women’s national team players at our Spanish sister site, AhoraMismo.com: