Monday June 22nd, 2015

EDMONTON, Alberta — Colombia’s Lady Andrade has been one of the best players in this Women’s World Cup. I won’t argue this, which is why I included her in my Best XI of the WWC Group Stage. Andrade has scored goals. She has been the spark of Colombia’s attack. And she’s had some insane moves on the ball.

Lady Andrade is a bonafide entertainer and one of the biggest stars of this tournament.

She’s also an unrepentant cheapshot artist, which is worth remembering as the U.S. prepares to meet Colombia in Monday’s round of 16 (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1, NBC Universo). The last time the U.S. faced Colombia, a 3-0 U.S. win in the 2012 Olympics, Andrade sucker-punched Wambach with what remains the worst cheapshot I’ve ever seen on a U.S. women’s player.

“I hit her, what else can I say?” Andrade told USA Today with a laugh this week. “If you look back at the video you’ll see she hit me too, but we’re Colombia so they don’t want to review the whole episode.”

Granted, Wambach has her own history, having injured Nigeria’s Bunmi Kayode in the 2003 World Cup with an elbow and having elbowed England’s Faye White at the 2007 World Cup.

But Andrade’s comment was reflective of the giant straw-man Colombia’s players have concocted leading into Monday’s game. If you check the video, it doesn’t show Wambach clocking Andrade.

And despite the assurances of Andrade and teammate Yoreli Rincón that the U.S. players have belittled Colombia this week, there’s no evidence that any U.S. players have done so. (Several members of the U.S. media have called Colombia an easier opponent than, say, Germany, but the media are not the U.S. players, and well, those media statements are correct, anyway.)

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If anything, the smack talk has been entirely one-way traffic from Colombia. Rincón said on Monday that the U.S. players might be physically superior, but they “don’t have the heart” that Colombia has.

Given the chance to respond, the U.S.’s Meghan Klingenberg was more bewildered than anything else.

“We’re never going to talk smack,” she said. “The only smack we’re ever going to talk is when we’re on the field, and that’s just with our play. I don’t know what to say about the Colombians. I wish them well in the match. We’ll do our best to beat them, and they’ll do their best to beat us.”

All that said, as a card-carrying media member I’ll never complain about players spouting off to provide material heading into a game. The Colombians have gone in some new and imaginative directions this week, but more power to them. They’ve certainly added some spice to a match that already had plenty as a World Cup elimination game.

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