The United States women’s national soccer team’s meeting with Colombia in the Round of 16 of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup should be interesting for both business and personal reasons.
Colombia forward Lady Andrade launched a verbal broadside at Team USA in an interview with USA TODAY on Saturday, accusing the Americans of belittling her team and vowing to beat them on the field Monday.
“They belittle us,” Andrade told USA TODAY. “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.”
“There would be huge repercussions (with a win) because of what the U.S. symbolizes and what has been said about us there. This team is more than motivated (…) we’re thirsty for a victory.”
Andrade’s accusation and guarantee reached Team USA forward Alex Morgan, who denied her Colombian rival’s claims.
“We never started (this),” Morgan said. “We have respected every team we have played in the World Cup so far. We want to let our actions speak on the field.”
Team USA head coach Jill Ellis wondered aloud exactly how her team provoked Andrade.
“I think the word (used) was ‘belittle'”, Ellis said. “I think the thing for me is I would ask … what have we said that was belittling?
“What I know about this team is that they’re classy. They like to play with their feet. I can’t imagine our players acting that way. If you said to me, ‘We said this’, I can respond. But to say that we belittled and there is no fact behind it or comment behind it? I will address it, but I just know my players.”
Much of the animus between Team USA and Colombia stems from their 2012 meeting at the Summer Olympics. Andrade overshadowed Team USA’s 3-0 win by sucker-punching Abby Wambach and earning herself a two-game ban.
Nearly three years have passed since the incident, but Colombia, and perhaps Team USA, will carry some residual bad blood into the World Cup meeting. Let’s hope Andrade and the other 21-plus players let their talented feet fight the good fight, rather than their fists.
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