Five Things to Know: USA vs. Colombia

The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off the Knockout Stage of the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup on Sunday, March 3, taking on familiar foe Colombia at 8:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 p.m. PT at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles. Broadcast coverage will be available in English on Paramount+ and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.

The teams squared off last October in friendly matches in Sandy, Utah and San Diego, but now meet in Los Angeles with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

Get ready for Sunday’s showdown with Five Things to Know about USA vs. Colombia.

COLOMBIA FINISHES SECOND IN GROUP B

After finishing second in Group B, Colombia enters the Quarterfinal as the fifth-overall seed, taking on the fourth-seeded Americans.

The Knockout Rounds for this inaugural tournament are comprised of the Group A, B and C winners (Mexico, Brazil and Canada), the three group runners-up (USA, Colombia and Paraguay) and the two best third-place finishers (Argentina and Costa Rica).

Colombia, which was invited to participate in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup after finishing second at the 2022 Copa America Femenina, opened the tournament with a decisive 6-0 victory over Panama. Powered by a first-half brace from forward Manuela Pavi, Las Cafeteras jumped out to a three-goal lead at the half and added three more in the second stanza, highlighted by an impressive display of skill and a score from teenage standout Linda Caicedo.

Facing South American foes Brazil in the second group stage match, Colombia conceded an early goal – its only allowed during the group stage – and fell 1-0 to move into second place in Group B.

Colombia rebounded on the final match day of play, topping Puerto Rico 2-0 to secure a spot in the knockout rounds. Caicedo and team captain Catalina Usme both scored in the victory as Colombia held an 8-1 advantage in shots on target.

WE MEET AGAIN

The U.S. and Colombia played most recently late in October, squaring off in a pair of friendlies in Utah and San Diego. The teams opened the two-game slate with a scoreless draw on Oct. 26 at America First Field in Sandy. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher recorded her ninth shutout of 2023 and the American backline limited Colombia to just two shots on goal while the Colombian defense and goalkeeper Natalia Giraldo did well in their own right, staving off many attempts and crosses to earn the draw.

The teams then traveled to San Diego and squared off at Snapdragon Stadium – which hosted all of Group B this tournament and will be the host site for the Concacaf W Gold Cup Semifinals and Final – this time resulting in a 3-0 win for the USA. After a scoreless first-half, the U.S. found the back of the net three times in the second, with goals from Mia Fishel, Lindsey Horan and Jaedyn Shaw. Horan scored on a world-class volley in the 62nd minute off a cross from Emily Fox while Fishel – a San Diego native – and Shaw – who plays for San Diego Wave FC – both netted the first goals of their international careers.

Overall, the U.S. held a 20-3 advantage in shots in the Oct. 29 matchup and lead shots on goal by a 7-2 margin.

Fifteen of the 23 players on the USA’s W Gold Cup roster participated in the October friendlies against Colombia.

INSIDE THE SERIES: USA vs. COLOMBIA

Sunday’s quarterfinal will be the 13th meeting all-time between the USA and Colombia and the fifth in a competitive match. The U.S. holds a 10W-2D-0L advantage overall in the series, the last six meetings of which have all been friendlies.

Four of the previous 12 meetings between the nations have come at world championship events – playing twice at the World Cup and twice at the Olympics. The sides met for the first time at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a 3-0 win for the Americans in the second match of Group C play. The teams squared off one year later at the 2012 Summer Olympics, again meeting in the group stage and again resulting in a 3-0 win for the USA. In 2015, they squared off in World Cup Round of 16 in Edmonton, Canada. The USA won 2-0 behind second-half goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. The most recent meeting between the teams in a competitive match came during the group stage of the 2016 Summer Olympics, a 2-2 tie against Las Cafeteras on Aug. 9, 2016. Crystal Dunn and Mallory Swanson scored for the U.S. in that match.

The USWNT enters Sunday’s quarterfinal unbeaten in its last 26 matches against CONMEBOL competition and has won 17 of its last 18 games against South American opponents, with wins over Brazil (5), Colombia (5), Chile (3), Paraguay (2) and Argentina (2) during that span.

INSIDE THE ROSTER: COLOMBIA

Seventeen of the 23 players on Colombia’s roster for the Concacaf W Gold Cup were on the October roster for the friendlies against the USA, including Caicedo, who at just 19-years old was one of three finalists for The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award 2023 and finished second in the voting to Spain’s Aitana Bonmati.

Caicedo, who signed with Real Madrid in February of 2023, represented Colombia at the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India, helping Colombia reach the final where it fell to Spain 1-0 on a late own goal. Despite the heartbreaking finish, it marked Colombia’s best-ever finish at a Youth Women’s World Cup and served as a coming out party for Caicedo, who won the Silver Ball as the second-best player overall in the tournament as well as the Bronze Boot, finishing with four goals on the tournament.

Joining Caideco on the attack is veteran forward Catalina Usme, who missed the October matches against the USA due to injury. Usme scored the game-winning goal in Colombia’s historic win over Jamaica in the Round of 16 at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and tallied twice during the Gold Cup group stage, tied for the team lead in scoring this tournament with Caideco and Pavi, to go along with a team-high three assists.

Goalkeeper Natalia Giraldo has started every match for Colombia this tournament, conceding just one goal, while defenders Manuela Vanegas and Jorelyn Carabali have also played every minute of this Gold Cup.

COLOMBIA WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Natalia Giraldo (America De Cali), 12-Sandra Sepulveda (Llaneros FC), 22-Stefany Castaño (Clube Atlético Mineiro, BRA)  

DEFENDERS (5): 2-Manuela Vanegas (Real Sociedad, ESP), 3-Daniela Arias (SC Corinthians, BRA), 14-Angela Baron (Atlético Nacional), 17-Carolina Arias (Unattached), 19-Jorelyn Carabali (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG)

MIDFIELDERS (11): 4-Angie Yanten (America De Cali), 5-Lorena Bedoya (Real Brasilia, BRA), 6-Daniela Montoya (Atlético Nacional), 7-Maria Camila Reyes (Unattached), 8-Marcela Restrepo (Atlético Nacional), 9-Ivonne Chacon (Valencia Feminas CF, ESP), 10-Diana Celis (Millonarios FC), 13-Iilana Izquierdo (Deportivo Cali),  16-Lady Andrade (Real Brasil CF, BRA), 20-Monica Ramos (Grêmio FBPA, BRA), 21-Liana Salazar (Millonarios FC)

FORWARDS (4): 11-Catalina Usme (Pachuca, MEX), 15-Manuela Pavi (Deportivo Cali), 18-Linda Caicedo (Real Madrid CF, ESP), 23-Elexa Bahr (Unattached)

ON THE RISE

Like the USA, Colombia will compete in the 2024 Olympics later this summer and qualified for Paris 2024, its third Olympics overall in program history, by virtue of its second-place finish at the 2022 Copa America Feminina, which Colombia hosted.

At that tournament, which sent three teams directly to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and the top two finishers to the 2024 Olympics, Colombia won Group A by sweeping all four matches. Colombia then defeated Argentina, 1-0, in the all-important semifinal before falling to rivals and longtime South American power Brazil 1-0  in the championship game.

Colombia heads into this next world championship event following an historic run at the 2023 World Cup which saw Las Cafeteras reach the quarterfinal for the first time in program history. Highlighted by a 2-1 win over perennial powers Germany, Colombia won Group H and defeated Jamaica in the Round of 16 before falling to eventual runners-up England 2-1 in front of a sell-out crowd at Stadium Australia.

Colombia made its Olympic debut at London 2012, where it was drawn into Group G with the United States, France and Korea DPR. Colombia went winless in the group, falling to North Korea 2-0, the USA 3-0 – the match where Lady Andrade infamously punched Wambach in the face off the ball, an indiscretion that was caught on video and led two a two-game suspension for the Colombian star -- and France in a narrow 1-0 defeat. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Colombia was once again drawn into the same group as the USA and France, though this time picked up its first ever point in Olympic play with a 2-2 draw against the Americans while losing its other two matches against France (4-0) and New Zealand (1-0).