Second Time Around:
The 2012 Summer Games were the first taste for Colombia of Olympic competition. After qualifying through the 2010 South America Women's Football Championship, Colombia were drawn into Group G with the United States, France and North Korea. In their opening match in Glasgow, Scotland, Colombia fell to North Korea at Hampden Park. Facing the WNT in their second fixture, a Megan Rapinoe goal opened the scoring as Colombia headed into half-time down 1-0. They battled in the second half until Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd scored three minutes apart as the WNT went on to win 3-0. In their final group stage game, with a still a chance to qualify on goal difference, Colombia fell behind to France early and couldn't find an equalizer as the Olympic debut came to an end.
Class of South America:
Though only playing their first international in 1998 and dropping to an all-time low of 118th in the FIFA rankings in June of 2008, Colombia has since blossomed into one of South America's best teams and one the world's brightest up and coming squads. Currently sitting at 24th in the FIFA rankings and second in COMNEBOL, Colombia have represented their confederation in each major international tournament since the 2011 World Cup Finals in Germany. They've finished runners up in the last two Copa America Femenina competitions second to this summer's host, Brazil.
Colombia are no strangers to the USWNT in major international competition. In addition to their meeting in 2012 Olympics, in their World Cup debut in 2011, Colombia were drawn into Group C with Sweden, North Korea, and the USA. In the second group game in Sinsheim, the WNT won 3-0 with goals from Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd. Four years later, the teams would meet again in Ottawa during a Round of 16 knockout game. After a scoreless first half, Alex Morgan broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute and Carli Lloyd gave the WNT insurance from the penalty spot as the United States won 2-0.
Names to Know:
The most capped player on the roster is defender Nataly Arias. She has been capped 58 times and has lead the back line through two World Cups and the 2012 Summer games. While Arias will be trusted to anchor the backline, Catalina Usme is the team's leading goal scorer with 20 international goals. She scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over France in the 2015 Women's World Cup group stage. One of Colombia's European based players, Valencia's Natalia Gaitan, captained Colombia during their Round of 16 run last summer and her leadership will be counted on in Brazil if Colombia are to have similar success. Forward Lady Andrade, perhaps best known for punching Abby Wambach in the face off the ball during the match at the 2012 Olympics (for which she was later suspended for two matches), played club soccer in the NWSL with the Western New York Flash.
Current NCAA Athletes:
After the games in Brazil finish, two Colombian players will head back to the United States to play in the ACC and the MAC. Goalkeeper Catalina Perez, a redshirt junior, will return to the University of Miami after playing 10 matches for the Hurricanes in 2015. She finished last season third in the conference in saves per game and seventh in total saves. Midfielder Isabella Echeverri will look to improve on her stellar 2015 campaign for the University of Toledo this fall. The second team All-MAC performer, she scored six goals and assisted three times last season to lean the team with 15 points. Perez and Echeverri join a host of Colombian players who have played in the NCAA: Natalia Gaitan (Toldeo), Ingrid Vidal (Kansas), Orianica Velasquez (Indiana), Nataly Arias (Maryland) and Tatiana Ariza (Austin Peay).