By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports

The USA advanced out of the group of death unscathed and now have what looks to be one of the easier paths ahead of them to advance to the semi-final. Their first test of the knockout stages will be Colombia who placed second in their group and the highlight of their tournament so far was a 2-0 win over France in the group stages. The match-up takes place tonight at 8pm.  

History

There’s some history of bad blood between these two teams. Back in the 2012 Olympic Games, in a 3-0 USA win, Colombia’s striker Lady Andrade punched Abby Wambach in the eye and received a 2-match suspension. Combined with our next category, it’s safe to say that there will be plenty of intensity in this match-up.

Colombia Trash Talk

You may have missed it over the weekend while watching the US Open, but Colombia’s star striker Lady Andrade had some pretty strong words about the US in advance of the match-up.  Via USA Today:

“[The United States] belittle us. They think we’re a team they’re going to walk all over and it will be an easy game for them. … We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much.”

She wasn’t the only Colombian player that got involved in the trash talk, with mid-fielder Yoreli Rincon echoing Andrade’s sentiments to NBC Sports

“They defeated us 3-0 however they said all sort of things because one of their players unfortunately got smacked,” Rincon said. “But that happens in many matches. It always happens, there is a foul and a player is awarded a card following that episode. And because of something that happened three years ago, they’ve said things that have not been taken by us in the best way”

The US for their part have said all the right things in response. However, that’s what they have to say in public as the favorite. Anybody that’s an athlete knows that you’ll use any perceived slight to give you more of an edge. 

Match-up to Watch

The two players who have done the talking for the Colombian side will have an opportunity to get after the US back-line in this match, if previous matches are any indication. Rincon in the midfield orchestrating and Andrade up top go against an American back four that has been the best unit on the team in the last two times out against Sweden and Nigeria. Andrade has 2 of Colombia’s 4 goals in the tournament and she times runs very well, check out her goal in the France game. 

The US will have to continue their solid communication and play in front of Hope Solo or these two will make them pay. 

Colombia Has Never Beaten The USA

Granted the Americans and Colombians have only met twice in international play prior to this game tonight. The first time was in the group stages of the 2011 World Cup, when the US won 3-0. The two sides met again (as previously mentioned) in the 2012 London Olympics where the USA also won 3-0. 

Colombia’s Physicality

The Colombians have recorded the most yellow cards in the tournament with 8 (tied with Cote de Ivoire). They’ve already conceded a penalty based on one of those fouls. They’re a team that has that physical style to them, one that the US certainly can match, but it’s also a style that can lead to plenty of set piece opportunities, which is where the US are at their most dangerous.