Colombia’s claims of trash-talking leave United States women perplexed

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EDMONTON, Alberta – There is trash-talking and then there is…well, mysterious trash-talking.

Nobody seems to know what Colombian players are referencing ahead of Monday’s round-of-16 match against the United States at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

“I know they’ve made comments like they’ve been disrespected, but that’s not from us,” U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “We definitely respect them as an opponent. We’ve seen what they’ve done in this tournament. I don’t think it’s any fluke that they beat France.”

Rapinoe’s mildly surprised reaction comes days after Colombia forward Lady Andrade guaranteed a victory over the United States. Andrade said that U.S. players “belittle” the Colombians. Colombia hasn’t played the United States since the 2012 Olympics, a match the U.S. won 3-0. The U.S. beat Colombia 3-0 in the group stage of the 2011 World Cup in the only other meeting between the teams.

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Rapinoe echoed what U.S. forward Alex Morgan said on Saturday, that the Americans haven’t said anything.

It appears from the outside that the Colombians have set up the ultimate straw-man argument, rallying around a false truth. U.S. players did say in days past that they were happy to avoid cross-country travel to Moncton, and coach Jill Ellis said after beating Nigeria last week that she was “ecstatic” to win the group. But that was before Colombia, who played its final group game a day later, was even set as the United States’ next opponent.

On Sunday, star midfielder Yoreli Rincon vaguely referenced trash-talking by the Americans. She did at one point reference words exchanged at the 2012 London Olympics.

“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.”

Asked to detail what was said by the Americans, Rincon declined.

“No I don’t think that is relevant,” she said. “I’ve not been reading the news much. They’ve said that it is a very easy game for them, that they are happy because they’ve played Colombia.”

Colombia coach Fabian Taborda said there are “no small enemies” on the field, but was highly complementary of the second-ranked Americans.

“I feel that having the best team in the world as our opponent is a source of honor, pride and it is certainly something that very much motivates us to play a great game,” he said.

Rincon said the Americans “are clearly tall and athletic, but they don’t have the heart that we Colombians have.” Wambach, like the rest of her teammates, refused to get involved in any actual exchanging of words. The Americans plan to talk by pointing to the scoreboard on Monday.

“We’re never going to talk smack,” U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg said. “The only smack that we are ever going to talk is when we are on the field, and that is just with our play.”

On Monday, the Americans hope that play will carry them into the quarterfinals, where they would face China.

Klopp fined for criticizing referee after West Ham draw

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Jurgen Klopp has been fined nearly $60,000 by England’s Football Association over comments he made following Liverpool’s 1-1 draw away to West Ham United on Feb. 4.

[ MORE: Man City marvelous in 10-man comeback win (video) ]

Kevin Friend was the referee that night in east London, and Klopp directly questioned his integrity, claiming that every 50-50 decision went West Ham’s way after Liverpool scored — and were allowed to keep — a blatantly offside goal in the first half.

“I heard our goal was offside. I’m pretty sure the ref knew that.

“In 50-50 situations [after the offside goal], it was always a free kick for the other team, which was hard and did not make life easy.”

This is the second time the FA has fined Klopp this season. The first came as a result of the Reds manager running onto the field to celebrate Divock Origi‘s game-winning goal against Everton in December.

Man City fan in critical condition after alleged assault in Germany

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One Manchester City fan is in “critical condition” in a German hospital following an alleged assault Wednesday night in Germany.

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The incident is alleged to have taken place at the VELTINS-Arena following Man City’s 3-2 comeback victory over Bundesliga side Schalke. City said in a statement on Thursday that “club staff have remained in Germany to support the family” of the fan.

“The club are working with Greater Manchester Police and German Police to ascertain more information,” the statement also said.

Neymar to continue injury rehab in Brazil

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will return to Brazil on Thursday to continue his recovery from a right foot injury.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid takes 2-0 lead over Juventus (video) ]

Neymar was injured playing against Strasbourg in a French Cup game in late January with a recurrence of a fifth metatarsal injury he sustained one year earlier.

League leader PSG said in a statement Wednesday evening that Neymar will continue his treatment in Brazil for about 10 days, under the supervision of members of PSG’s medical department.

[ MORE: Man City marvelous in 10-man comeback win (video) ]

When he broke his foot last year, Brazil star Neymar had an operation in order to get back in time for the World Cup in Russia. But medical experts decided against another operation in favor of a more conservative form of treatment this time around.

Neymar was ruled out for 10 weeks and is hopeful of returning for the Champions League quarterfinals in April if PSG advances.

Red Bulls handle Atlético Pantoja to start CCL campaign (video)

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The New York Red Bulls didn’t need to leave it late (like DaMarcus Beasley and Houston), nor did the MLS side forget how to play (like Toronto FC).

[ MORE: Nashville gets its MLS logo ]

RBNY scooped up a 2-0 first leg defeat of Dominican Republic side Atlético Pantoja in CONCACAF Champions League play in Santo Domingo on Wednesday.

Daniel Royer inspired a first half Pantoja own goal, but it was Kaku’s looping assist to Royer that stole the show with an insurance marker in the 67th minute.

Academy product and former Wake Forest midfielder Omir Fernandez, 20, made his senior debut off the bench in the 75th minute.