U.S. women unfazed by Lady Andrade’s prediction of Colombia win
The slings and arrows, threats and predictions against the U.S. women keep coming, this time from their Round of 16 opponent Colombia. Star forward Lady Andrade pumped up the volume ahead of Monday’s match against the U.S. at Commonwealth Stadium by accusing the U.S. of belittling Colombia.
"They belittle us. They think we’re a team they’re going to walk all over and it will be an easy game for them,” Andrade said, adding: "We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much."
The comments, which appeared in USA Today, drew confusion from the Americans, who basically responded with: "Wait, what?"
"I think certain players prepare for games in different ways. Obviously we’ve seen what Lady has said but we haven’t really been the ones starting that in the beginning,” U.S. striker Alex Morgan said Saturday.
"We’ve always respected every other team in the World Cup that we’ve played so far. We want our actions to speak for themselves on the field,” Morgan added.
The one-way war of words has a little history. In the 2012 Olympics, Andrade drew a suspension for whacking U.S. striker Abby Wambach in the eye away from the play. But Morgan took the high road.
"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 and hopefully she’s come to play football,” Morgan said.
Colombia won their way into their first knockout round with a huge 2-0 upset win over France. The squad, sitting at 28th in the FIFA World Rankings, does not enjoy anywhere near the financial or training support that powerhouse sides like the U.S., Germany and France do. Despite increased parity, programs like Colombia’s are competing against better funded, professional teams.
Whatever is fueling the anti-American backlash, Andrade wasn’t the first to level criticism at the U.S. After the U.S. defeated Australia in group play, the Matildas, via their official website, trash-talked the U.S., too, essentially saying that the reigning Olympic champions and No. 2-ranked team in the world are overrated.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis said she faulted the media for not asking Andrade for specifics. There has been no cited comment, just a general perception created by press coverage, that the U.S. will prevail against Colombia.
"I would ask what have we said that is belittling? What I know about this team is they’re classy, they like to fight with their feet. So I can’t imagine our players acting like that," Ellis said.
But Ellis was unfazed by the prediction by Andrade that Colombia would win.
"People asked me: ‘Do you mind that she said she’s going to win?’ She should say she’s going to win. Because every athlete here is an elite athlete. At that level you should have self-belief in what you can do. So for me, those are things that you expect in terms of what an opponent is going to say. Does it derail us? Do we focus on it? No,” Ellis said.
"I feel like they’ve earned every right to do that. They’ve moved on for the first time in their history of the World Cup to make it to the knockout stages, so I think they have a lot of confidence. They just beat France, so I see where their confidence is stemming from. Not having played them for the last three years since the Olympics, I’ve seen that they’ve grown as a team. I see Lady has grown into a leadership role and so we’re going to play them and scout them like we would any team,” she said.
Wambach allegedly is not planning to key off on Andrade, despite the pre-game taunts. The U.S. attacking tandem is eager to get back on the field and continue where they left off against Nigeria. Morgan got her first-ever World Cup start and played 66 minutes after nursing a bone bruise for the past two months.
"We were just chatting briefly about it at lunch. (Wambach) said she wants to go out and play (like) she would any other game. I don’t think she’s focusing on any one player. Obviously we want to score goals, we want to win. It’s more about us getting that rhythm,” Morgan said.