Like it or not, Lady Andrade has gotten under the skin of many in the American soccer world. And when it comes to the business of soccer, Alexi Lalas is taking it very personally.
Over the weekend, the former U.S. Men’s national team player and current broadcaster took a direct shot at Colombia’s Andrade, who will be part of the team that takes on the U.S. Women’s National team Monday night in Edmonton, after Andrade predicted a 2-1 victory against the Americans. It was a move considered bold in some circles, considering the pedigree of both programs.
Whatever the case may be, at least two analysts felt the need to address Andrade directly.
As seen in the clip above, Sunday, the Fox Sports panel responds to Andrade’s statements to USA Today, in which she said, “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. We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much.”
Heather Mitts, former U.S. Women’s National team player started the response.
“We last played Lady Andrade in the 2012 Olympics and she punched Abby Wambach in the face and was suspended for two games,” said Mitts, who actually played in that game. “You. Did. Not. Learn. Your. Lesson, Lady Andrade. The U.S. will show how they feel on the field.”
Lalas followed with another approach.
“I love the fact that Lady Andrade is embracing the irritant role. I love a good irritant as many who watch me know,” he said. “But this is all that they have right now. And yes, they’re going to rile up and they’re going to poke the United States. There’s a question as to whether she’s directing this toward the players of the U.S. team or the media that surrounds. And many of us up here have said that this is going to be an easy game. So I’ll say it again to Lady Andrade: It’s going to be an easy game. You are going to get beaten by the United States. And if that riles you up, fine. But it’s not going to change the fact that the U.S. got a gift in terms of playing this team.”
During the pregame of the China-Cameroon game, he doubled down on his comments. It’s hard to tell why Lalas feels so personally invested in this particular game. Maybe it’s because he was once on the other side of this coin, as a player in the 1994 World Cup, an American facing a Colombia team that had eyes on contending for the title. The infamous epilogue of that game aside, it was a turning point for both nation’s soccer programs, moving in opposite directions. That game was 21 years ago Monday.
The amount of attention this run-of-the-mill trash-talk situation has received reveals just as much about where the U.S. Women’s national team is as a program as it does Colombia’s. The latter is a national team on the rise, who beat France in the group stages in a massive upset, after having not scored once in the last World Cup. The U.S., while still a favorite, hasn’t won a World Cup since 1999.
Of course, in a 24-hour news cycle, every sentence becomes a thing and every tweet is a storyline. But heading into a knockout round game, Colombia’s best player is also arguably the biggest story of this matchup. Players have kind of brushed it off, saying they’re not trying to start anything, just play soccer. Maybe that’s a good thing for the United States, but it certainly isn’t bad for Las Cafeteras.
But if you want to get an idea of what Andrade meant when she told USA Today “they belittle us,” in regards to the respect level between the two teams, just see head coach Jill Ellis’ reply. “You’ll probably have to ask Abby,” she said. “But I wouldn’t poke Abby.”
She didn’t poke Abby. She punched her.