For some reason, the U.S. seems to bring out the worst in Colombia’s Lady Andrade.
The last time the two countries met, in the 2012 Olympics, Andrade sucker-punched American striker Abby Wambach, knocking her to the turf and blackening her right eye. For that, Andrade earned a two-match suspension.
Now, as Colombia prepares to meet the U.S. again Monday in the second round of the Women’s World Cup, she is trying to stir things up again, this time with her mouth.
After Colombia’s final group-play game in Montreal, Andrade, who scored two of her team’s four goals in the first round, accused the U.S. of belittling her team, then predicted the South Americans would win Monday’s elimination game.
But if she was hoping to ignite a war of words, the U.S. wasn’t taking the bait.
“Certain players prepare for games in different ways,” forward Alex Morgan said. “Yes, we’ve see what Lady said. We’ve always respected them. We want to let our actions speak on the field.
“She didn’t do great things at the Olympics in terms of trying to take Abby out of the game. But this is a new tournament.”
For U.S. Coach Jill Ellis, Andrade wasn’t so much talking trash as she was showing confidence in her teammates — which is exactly what a leader should do.
“People asked me, ‘Do you mind that she said she’s going to win?’,” Ellis said. “She should say she’s going to win. Every athlete here is an elite athlete. At that level, you should have self-belief in what you can do.
“Does it derail us? Do we focus on it? No. I just want to win the game.”
Morgan never doubted Cup appearance
Morgan’s start in the final game of group play last week was her first for the national team in more than two months, her absence the result of a bone bruise to her left knee. But even as the injury lingered, Morgan said she was confident she’d play in the World Cup.
“I can’t really say if there was much doubt because I guess I really didn’t let that creep into my mind,” said Morgan, who has battled injuries for most of the last two years. “I knew that no matter what percentage my body felt, once I got on the field I would be playing like I had no injuries.”
In her 65 minutes against Nigeria, Morgan breathed new life into the Americans’ moribund attack. And though her two best scoring opportunities were both turned away, Morgan said the offense, which has scored just four goals here, is beginning to find a rhythm.
“It’s going to come,” she said. “We used those group-stage [games] as building blocks. And I think we’re going to keep getting better. It was creative and I felt like our attack was a little bit more unpredictable than the game before.”
Wambach hasn’t made any definitive announcement about her future beyond this tournament, but at 35 this would figure to be her last World Cup.
So she intends to enjoy it.
“I do want to take it in and stop and smell the roses — for moments, at least. In the short term, yeah, there could be heartbreak, right? But in the long term, big picture, this is massive for women’s football,” Wambach said of this World Cup, the largest and longest in history.
“And I don’t want to forget about those things, no matter what the results are on those given days. No matter how this turns out for our specific team, this is still a fantastic show.”
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11