The U.S. Men’s National Team resumes its Kickoff Series this month against a pair of strong South American opponents. First up, the USA faces Colombia at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1, Univision, UDN). Before the U.S. takes on the world’s No. 14-ranked team, here are five things to know about Los Cafeteros.
SOCCER HISTORYThe Colombian national team dates back to 1938, but its rise to international prominence came in the 1990s. Led by the iconic curly afro of Carlos Valderrama and defined by moments like goalkeeper Rene Higuita’s unforgettable scorpion kick save at Wembley Stadium, the Colombians qualified for three straight World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998) after a 28-year absence. Colombia capped off a decade of success at the 2001 Copa America. Nearly cancelled due to security concerns, the Colombians took home the title on their home turf, not allowing a single goal in the process.
After missing three straight World Cups, Colombia made a triumphant return to the global stage in 2014. Led by Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez and the tournament’s top assist man in Juan Cuadrado, Colombia swept its three group stage games. In the round of 16, The Colombians took down regional rival Uruguay before falling to host Brazil in the quarterfinals, marking its best finish.
Led by interim manager Arturo Reyes, Colombia has called in a strong roster to take on the USA in Tampa. Twelve players return from the World Cup team, headlined by midfielders James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado as well as forward Radamel Falcao.
Goalkeeper David Ospina enters as the roster’s most-experienced player with 92 international appearances. Four players will look to earn their first cap against the USA, while two, defenders Cristian Borja and Devier Machado, made their debuts in the last international window.
Colombia Roster (Club; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Álvaro Montero (Tolima; 0/0), David Ospina (Napoli/ITA; 92/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Felipe Aguilar (Atlético Nacional; 3/0), Santiago Arias (Atlético Madrid/ESP; 46/0), Cristian Borja (Toluca/MEX; 1/0), Deiver Machado (Atlético Nacional; 1/0) Jeison Murillo (Valencia/ESP; 26/1), Óscar Murillo (Pachuca/MEX; 14/0), Helibelton Palacios (Atlético Nacional; 3/0), Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 15/0),
MIDFIELDERS (9): Wílmar Barrios (Boca Juniors/ARG; 15/0), Edwin Cardona (Boca Juniors/ARG; 31/5), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus/ITA; 76/8), Didier Moreno (Deportivo La Coruña/ESP; 0/0), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate/ARG; 20/3), Juan Daniel Roa (Indendiente Santa Fe; 0/0), James Rodríguez (Bayern Munich/GER; 66/21), Mateus Uribe (Club América/MEX; 13/0), Sebastián Villa (Boca Juniors/ARG; 2/0),
FORWARDS (5): Carlos Bacca (Villarreal/ESP; 50/14), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras/BRA; 8/2), Yimmi Chará (Atlético Mineiro/BRA; 8/1), Radamel Falcao (Monaco/FRA; 79/31), Cucho Hernández (Huesca/ESP; 0/0)
AGAINST THE U.S.
Colombia is the USA’s most frequent international opponent outside of Concacaf. The countries have played 19 times, dating back to a 1961 clash in Bogota. All time, the USA is 3-12-4 against Los Cafeteros. The nations have met in friendlies, confederation championships and most famously, the World Cup.
The U.S. and Colombia faced off in the second group stage match of the 1994 World Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Colombia entered the tournament as a potential favorite to win it all, but the USA emerged victorious with a 2-1 win. Current MNT general manager Earnie Stewart was instrumental, scoring the game-winning goal.
Following the World Cup, Valderamma, Colombia’s all-time appearance leader, joined Major League Soccer for its inaugural 1996 season. The league’s inaugural MVP, his decorated eight-year career earned him a place in the MLS All-Time Best XI.
Most recently, the nations clashed twice during the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
LAST TIME OUT
Following its success at the 2014 World Cup, hopes were high for Colombia at the 2018 tournament. After an early red card spurred a surprise opening loss to Japan, Colombia took care of business in its group stage games against Poland and Senegal to earn advancement to the knockout round.
Los Cafeteros drew England for the Round of 16 and fell behind early in the second half. Yerry Mina netted a header in the third minute of stoppage time to keep the Colombians hopes alive, sending the match to extra time, and eventually, penalty kicks. There, England came out on top, 4-3, to send Colombia home in a heartbreaker.
Following the World Cup, Colombia played two friendlies in the U.S. during the September international window. The Colombians came from behind to defeat Venezuela 2-1 in Miami and drew Argentina 0-0 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. just a few days after the U.S. fell to Brazil in the same venue.
Famed as one of the world’s leading producers of coffee, the national soccer team is known as Los Cafeteros or “the coffee growers.” Sometimes called the “Gateway to South America,” it’s the continent’s second-most populous country and the second-most biodiverse nation in the world. Colombia has the world’s largest number of endemic species, species not found anywhere else, as well as the world’s greatest number of bird species. Caño Cristales is known as the “River of Five Colors,” as freshwater plants change its color to red, green, blue, yellow and black during certain parts of the year.
Colombia is the mythical home of “El Dorado,” inspiring legions of adventurers to hunt for the ancient city of gold. After being conquered by Spain in the 16th century, Colombia won its independence in 1819. Originally established as “Gran Colombia,” the new nation encompassed present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela and parts of other South American nations. Political differences led to the eventual foundation of the current Republic of Colombia in 1886.