A fourth Seattle Sounders player has been called up by their senior national team. With Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris already called in for the US Men’s National Team for the January Camp, and Nouhou at the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon, now Yeimar Gómez Andrade joins Colombia’s roster for a friendly against Honduras on Jan. 16.
Gómez Andrade received his first-ever national team call-up in November when he joined Colombia for a pair of World Cup Qualifiers in the absence of Yerry Mina. This time around it’s another health concern that has made way for Gómez Andrade to join the squad, as Atlético Nacional midfielder Sebastián Gómez is unable to participate due to a positive Covid test. The roster is comprised of players on teams in the Americas, with Gómez Andrade joining LAFC’s Cristian Arango and Portland’s Yimmy Chara to represent MLS as the team prepares for the match at Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium.
While Colombia do have a pair of World Cup Qualifying games in a couple of weeks after the friendly, it’s fair to say that this group isn’t the one they’d call in to try to get results in those games. More likely this is an opportunity for coach Reinaldo Rueda to get a look at some fringe players and have a chance for some guys to push their way into his plans. That means that Gómez Andrade has a week of training and a friendly to build upon the impression he made in the fall. His competition for a starting spot and minutes in the friendly are a trio of Colombia-based defenders: 24-year-old Andrés Llinás from Millonarios FC, 31-year-old Germán Mera and 24 year-old Homer Martínez, both of whom play for Junior FC. None of the four — including Gómez Andrade — have a national team cap yet, but Mera is the most accomplished of the group, having spent some time in Belgium as well as a brief loan spell with the Colorado Rapids in 2013. The balance of experience and youth seems to be the theme for the roster for this friendly.
Should Gómez Andrade earn his way onto the roster for the approaching World Cup Qualifiers, he’ll have some important matches to prepare for. Colombia currently sits in fourth place, the final automatic qualification spot for CONMEBOL. With 17 points through 14 games of the 18-game cycle, Colombia are level on points with Peru but have the edge due to goal difference. Colombia will host fifth-place Peru in the first qualifier of this window on Jan. 28, then they’ll travel to face Argentina on Feb. 1. Argentina currently sit in second place with 29 points with 13 games played. The final two games of Colombia’s qualifying tournament are against Bolivia and Venezuela, 8th and 10th respectively, in March, but the games in this window are crucial for their — and Gómez Andrade’s — hopes of going to the World Cup.