For Colombia, Women’s World Cup performance a chance to advance role of females in sports back home

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EDMONTON, Alberta – In the case of the Women’s World Cup, the hope is that bigger means better.

Much has been made of the tournament’s expansion from 16 to 24 teams for the first time this year. Many feared that the inclusion of eight additional teams in the group stage could bring blowouts. While there were a few lopsided results, matches were largely entertaining and most were pretty close. Even some expected duds, like Thailand vs. Ivory Coast in a matchup of debutantes, turned out to be thrilling.

And now the games have more meaning than ever. Colombia is in the knockout stage of a major international women’s tournament for the first time. Las Cafeteras’ (the coffeemakers’) reward? A match against world No. 2 USA in the Round of 16 on Monday.

“For me it’s really exciting because it’s a game I played in my head a thousand times,” said Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez, a rising redshirt sophomore at the University of Miami. “It’s what kind of has motivated me throughout my career, so I’m very excited. I really respect and admire everyone on this team because we all have a winning mentality, because our dreams are bigger than our fears. I’m very excited to step on the field with them and play the United States.”

That bold attitude is newfound among a Colombia team whose words this week have drawn headlines. Colombia players claim that the Americans “belittle” them and that the U.S. has disrespected Colombia. The Americans said they’ve done nothing of the sort and they remain perplexed by Colombia’s comments.

Colombia forward Yoreli Rincon said Sunday that the Americans “don’t have the heart that we Colombians have. She is

“We came with great expectations we want to make headway into the future we want to have a new league in our country,” Rincon said.

[KASSOUF: Colombia’s claims of trash-talking leave US women perplexed]

This sense of confidence from Colombia players did not previously exist. Much of that confidence stems from advancement to the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time and the sense that what they are doing is bigger than them.

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Colombian goalkeeper Catalina Perez. (Getty Images)

Colombia’s run at the Women’s World Cup – which thus far includes a win over world No. 3 France in one of the biggest upsets in women’s soccer history – is paving a path to make women’s soccer acceptable in still machismo countries like so many in Latin America and Africa.

The 20-year-old Perez, who could see time against the United States on Monday in the Round of 16 of the World Cup, since starter Sandra Sepulveda is suspended, said she didn’t even know that Colombia had a national team for women before the team’s recent relative successes at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympics. She grew up in Florida after being born in Colombia.

But now, Perez is part of a Colombia squad inspiring little girls back home. She said sees the messages from kids and fans on social media. The hope is that there will be a cultural change in how women in sport are viewed in Colombia, which is the last-standing South American team in this tournament after Brazil’s upset loss on Sunday.

“I see it changing a lot,” Perez said. “In the past few years it has been very difficult. It’s been something that wasn’t seen too much, but I feel like we’re opening a new path for that, for all of soccer to grow in Colombia. I feel like it is more than just a game to us. I feel like we can really be the generation that makes soccer acceptable and bring a lot of opportunities to Colombian girls.”

[MORE: How a 50-50 ball changed fates of Australia, Brazil in historic upset]

Colombia coach Fabian Taborda, 36, says he grew up in a time of antiquated thinking. Parents did not think it was acceptable for girls to play sports and those females who did were harassed. Those issues persist today, but views of women’s roles in sports are changing in Colombia and other countries.

“It’s not about gender,” Taborda said through a translator. “It’s not about a man or a woman. It’s about sport and it’s about the passion that people can feel about football, and the passion that football represents for the whole world.”

Colombia is not alone in its fight for equality. Spain is a team that participated in its first Women’s World Cup this year. Players viewed advancing from the group stage as a way to earn respect back home and stimulate social change to start making soccer acceptable for women. Spain missed out on the knockout stage, but all 23 players penned a letter following the team’s exit that demanded a coaching change. Ignacia Quereda has been in charge of the team for 27 years.

[MORE: Complete coverage of 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

Five of the 16 teams to make the knockout stage did so for the first time at a Women’s World Cup, including Cameroon, only the second African nation to ever advance out of the group stage (Nigeria in 1999).

Cameroon narrowly lost, 1-0 to China on Saturday to miss out on a berth in the quarterfinals. But the team’s appearance in the Round of 16 – as second-place finishers in Group C behind reigning world champions Japan – was mildly surprising and inspiring for its country – inspiring enough to maybe be cause for change in how women in sport are viewed.

“It is quite complicated in Africa. At times, they don’t allow women to play football,” Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu said prior to Saturday’s match. “But I want to assure you that with the results we’ve been having, just today I received over 50 messages of young girls interested in playing soccer. So I’ve given them appointment when I come back home.”

Like anything in life, experience is paramount. Ngachu said after his team’s loss to China that he and the players have learned a lot.

“You must always believe in your dream,” he said. “We are believing in our dream. I want to say that the game against Japan had a positive influence on the Cameroonian squad. After that game, we started believing our dream. If we could play like that against Japan, the current champion, why not the others?”

The Women’s World Cup’s expansion to 24 teams has countries like Colombia and Cameroon dreaming for the first time. And with the seeds planted for future success, it could mean new opportunities for girls in countries where soccer has long been viewed as a man’s game.

“Girls that dedicate so much of their lives to it are actually having a good life and succeeding,” Perez said. “I feel like that is making the difference.”

On Monday, Colombia gets a chance to play out the big game against the United States in real life, not in anyone’s head. But the match could mean wonders inside the head of the young girls watching back home.

Report: Inter Miami first in line to sign USMNT’s Boyd

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Inter Miami’s first big signing could turn out to be a player who just announced himself to mainstream U.S. Soccer fans.

According to a report in The Athletic, Inter Miami has gained the discovery rights to sign U.S. Men’s National Team winger Tyler Boyd. The 24-year-old only recently came to U.S. Soccer’s attention due to only having played in friendly matches for the New Zealand National Team, and the New Zealander-American filed his one-time switch in May to be eligible for the USMNT during the Gold Cup.

[READ: Terry backs Lampard for Chelsea manager job]

He immediately opened his account with two goals against Guyana and five shots, two on target in the USMNT’s 6-0 thrashing of Trinidad and Tobago.

Boyd is currently under contract with Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes, but he’s played little for them since joining in 2015. He spent the 2017-2018 season with Tondela in the Portuguese Liga and then spent the last six months in Turkey with MKE Ankaragücü, scoring six goals in 14 games to help them stave off relegation. According to multiple reports, Boyd is down to the final year of his contract with Guimaraes, and it’s possible that he could be off to Turkey again – reports in Turkey state Besiktas is interested – or potentially elsewhere.

That’s where Inter Miami come in. With the club expected to launch in the 2020 season, it could sign Boyd this summer – as a Designated Player or use Targeted Allocation Money to pay down his salary and transfer fee – and loan him out for six months before beginning life in the Miami area when the team begins play next season. There’s plenty of precedent for this, including with what New York City FC did with Frank Lampard and to an extent, David Villa, as well as what FC Cincinnati did in a sense – signing Fatai Alashe and Fanendo Adi and loaning them to the team competing in USL in 2018.

Based on the little we’ve seen for Boyd, he would surely be a success in any system that gives him the freedom to attack down the wing and cut in, creating shooting lanes for him and his teammates. Of course, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter may prefer for Boyd to play in Europe and test himself against a higher-level of opposition.

Terry: Lampard ‘will have an impact on young players and improve them’

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It’s not a surprise that John Terry is supporting his longtime teammate and fellow club legend Frank Lampard for the open Chelsea managerial role.

However, it is interesting why Terry thinks Lampard is right for Chelsea.

[READ: Derby County confirm Chelsea approach for Lampard]

With Lampard the bookies favorite to become the new Chelsea manager, Terry has come out in support of the former midfield great, stating that Lampard can finally fully open the pipeline between the Chelsea academy and the first team.

“For some time, perhaps only myself and Ruben Loftus-Cheek had come through the academy to become regulars and that has probably left many young players questioning their future,” Terry told the Daily Mail. “Callum Hudson-Odoi will be assured he has a big role to play at Chelsea. Having Frank in charge and the transfer ban will give young players throughout the academy belief that there is a genuine pathway into Chelsea’s first team.

“Frank and Jody have tremendous knowledge of the youth set-up. I guarantee they will watch as many Under-23 and Under-18 matches at Chelsea as possible and open potential opportunities for the academy players. In fact I think it will be an exciting time to see what can happen.”

Chelsea is currently appealing a transfer ban from FIFA for signing underage players, but even if the transfer ban is imposed this summer, the club has dozens of players out on loan that could potentially come into the first team. These include Mason Mount, who starred for Lampard at Derby County last season, and American defender Matt Miazga, though he still has a long way to go until he’s ready for regular Premier League matches.

Other players like Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, and Tiemoue Bakayoko could also potentially return to the club and add to the strength in depth.

Of course, some of Chelsea’s youngsters didn’t come through the academy, but with Eden Hazard gone, Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek out long term and a need for some fresh talent in attack – to go with Christian Pulisic of course, Terry believes that Lampard could trust, and empower, some young players as Chelsea looks to build on a third-place finish this year.

Report: FIFA to consider disciplinary actions for Cameroon after Women’s World Cup outburst

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It didn’t help that refereeing decisions had gone against them, but Cameroon’s meltdown at the Women’s World Cup could cost the team, and potentially the federation in the future.

Per a report in the BBC, FIFA has begun investigating Cameroon for “team misconduct, offensive behavior and fair play breaches.” Specifically, Cameroon’s players appeared to lose their emotions surrounding two incidents that involved video assistant referees, or the VAR.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

In the first case, just before halftime, England’s Ellen White was initially ruled offside on a goal she scored, only for VAR to overturn the assistant referee and rule White’s goal could stand, because she was onside by about two feet. After that instance, Cameroon’s players appeared to make an on-field protest, and it wasn’t clear if the game would restart.

In the second half, Cameroon had a goal that was somewhat harshly disallowed after Ajara Nchout had scored to make it 2-1 for England and cut the deficit in half. Gabrielle Onguene, who played the pass into Nchout, was ruled by the VAR to be offside but only by the absolute slightest of margins, her heel.

Again, following this decision, players lost their emotions on the pitch and it took five minutes to restart the game.

Afterwards, Cameroon coach Alain Djeumfa criticized the officiating, calling the game a “miscarriage of justice” as Cameroon were knocked out of the World Cup.

England coach Phil Neville meanwhile said that he was disappointed with the match for all the young generations of fans watching, and it’s possible that FIFA is looking at it from this angle to potentially send a message that everyone must act professional on the field from start to finish, even if tempers run high.

Picking the Copa America knockout stage

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The Copa America has eliminated four nations, including the two Asian visitors, and now the stage is set for the final eight teams to battle for the title.

The field is wide open as the traditional powers Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and even perfect Colombia and Uruguay have all struggled at times in the competition. With that in mind, here are the picks for our PST writers, and as you can imagine, it’s all over the place in what promises to be an entertaining and exciting final eight. A potential Brazil v. Argentina semifinal matchup would be mouth-watering, while Colombia and Chile meet in the quarters in a matchup that tells you just how brutal this competition can be.

Who do you have going all the way in the South American tournament? Will Lionel Messi carry Argentina to his first major international title? Will James Rodriguez or Alexis Sanchez reignite their career? Can Luis Suarez best his Barcelona teammate and help Edinson Cavani to the crown?


Kyle Bonn

Quarterfinals:
Brazil def. Paraguay
Venezuela def. Argentina

Chile def. Colombia
Uruguay def. Peru

Semifinals:
Brazil def. Venezuela
Chile def. Uruguay

Final:
Brazil def. Chile


Joe Prince-Wright

Quarterfinals:
Brazil def. Paraguay
Argentina def. Venezuela

Chile def. Colombia
Uruguay def. Peru

Semifinals:
Brazil def. Argentina
Chile def. Uruguay

Final:
Brazil def. Chile


Daniel Karell

Quarterfinals:
Brazil def. Paraguay
Venezuela def. Argentina

Colombia def. Chile
Uruguay def. Peru

Semifinals:
Venezuela def. Brazil
Uruguay def. Colombia

Final:
Uruguay def. Venezuela


Nick Mendola

Quarterfinals:
Brazil def. Paraguay
Argentina def. Venezuela

Colombia def. Chile
Uruguay def. Peru

Semifinals:
Argentina def. Brazil
Uruguay def. Colombia

Final:
Argentina def. Uruguay