On Monday, the U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off its 2021 schedule when it hosts Colombia at 7 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Monday’s match, which will be the USA’s first game on home soil in 313 days, is the first of a two-game set that also features the teams playing at the same venue on Jan. 22 (7 p.m. on ESPN2).
Here are Five Things to Know about Las Cafeteras.
COLOMBIA COMES TO FLORIDA
The Colombian contingent for the two matches features 22 domestic-based players, 10 of whom play their club soccer for Deportivo Cali, the 2020 runners-up in the First Division that has been running in Colombia since 2017. Three players on the roster hail from the Santa Fe club, which won the league champions in 2020. Six of the 22 players on this roster played against the United States in the group stage of the 2016 Olympics.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Natalia Giraldo (América de Cali), Sandra Sepulveda (Independiente Medellín), Valentina Gonzalez (Llaneros F.C.)
DEFENDERS (7): Kelly Ibarguen (Deportivo Cali), Daniela Arias (Junior F.C.), Orianica Velasquez (Junior F.C.), Jorelyn Carabali (Deportivo Cali), Carolina Arias (Deportivo Cali), Kelly Caicedo (Deportivo Cali), Nancy Acosta (Santa Fe)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Diana Ospina (Independiente Medellín), Ana Huertas (Santa Fe), Daniela Montoya (Junior F.C.), Maria Camila Reyes (Llaneros F.C.), Jessica Caro (América de Cali)
FORWARDS (7): Kena Romero (Santa Fe), Gisela Robledo (América de Cali), Catalina Usme (América de Cali), Ingrid Guerra (Deportivo Cali), Manuela Pavi (Deportivo Cali), Linda Caicedo (Deportivo Cali), Liana Salazar (Santa Fe)
A HISTORY OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
Monday’s game will be the seventh meeting all-time between the USA and Colombia and the first meeting between the countries since a 2-2 draw on Aug. 9, 2016 in Manaus, Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympics. In that game, Colombia scored first on a free kick in the 26th minute, but Crystal Dunn tied the match in the 41st and after 18-year-old Mallory Pugh scored in the 59th minute -- becoming the youngest Olympic goal scorer in U.S. history -- it seemed as if the Americans would ride out the win. But as stoppage time approached, Colombia found a dramatic late equalizer despite being outshot, 16-3. The USA is 5-0-1 all-time against Colombia, outscoring Las Cafeteras 20-2 in the previous six meetings combined. The most recent clash between the teams on American soil came in a 3-0 USA win on April 10, 2016 in Chester, Pa. behind a goal from Christen Press and the first international brace from Julie Ertz.
Despite failing to qualify for both the 2021 Olympics and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Colombia was consistent presence at world championships in the last decade, appearning in two Women’s World Cups (2011, 2015) and two Olympics Games (2012 and 2016). Colombia debuted at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, losing to Sweden by just a 1-0 score, to the USA by a 3-0 score and then drawing North Korea, 0-0. Colombia made its debut at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament the following year at London 2012 when it was drawn in a fiercely tough Group G against holders and eventual champions USA, France (who finished fourth) and Korea DPR. At the 2015 FIFA World Cup, Colombia drew 1-1 with Mexico, defeated world power France 2-0, and then fell to eventual Third-Place finisher England by a 2-1 score to complete group play. The four points were enough to earn Colombia a Round of 16 match with the USA and Las Cafeteras put up quite a fight against the eventual world champions before bowing out, 2-0. Colombia’s most recent appearance at a world championship came at the 2016 Olympics, which pitted Colombia against the USA in the final match of the group stage.
This generation of Colombian players has more experience than any time in its history. Colombia burst onto the global scene with a fourth-place finish at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany, and impressed, but did not advance out of the group stage at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Only eight players on Colombia’s roster have more than 20 caps, with the most experienced players being midfielder Diana Ospina (54 caps/7 goals) and forward Catalina Usme, who famously scored both goals for Colombia against the USA at the Olympics in Brazil and has a remarkable 52 goals in 56 caps. On the other end of the spectrum, Colombia has nine teenagers on the roster, including one 16-year-old in Linda Caicedo, as it continues to build for qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Colombia is currently ranked 26th in the world and second in South America behind Brazil. While the USA has played 37 matches against Brazil, it has rarely faced other South American teams. The two friendlies vs. Colombia in April of 2016 were just the fourth and fifth meetings between countries and the clash in the 2016 Olympics was the sixth. The USA has also played Argentina three times, but there have been no other U.S. matches against CONMEBOL teams at the senior level. Colombia finished fourth at Copa América in Chile in 2018 and qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games. At the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, in Peru, Colombia finished second in its group behind Paraguay, but defeated Costa Rica in overtime, 4-3, in the semifinal then won the championship game in penalty kicks over Argentina 7-6 after a 1-1 tie in regulation. Usme scored Colombia’s lone goal in regulation that match, and then she and her teammates converted all seven penalty kicks, with Carolina Arias nailing the seventh and decisive PK.