Carlos Valdés is listed as a starter for Colombia's 4:00 PM EST match against Japan. Colombia, having already qualified, currently sits atop Group C with six points and will likely remain in that position at the end of the day. Los Cafeteros only need a result against Japan today to win the group, but they can also earn the first seeding if the Ivory Coast does not win by enough to overtake Colombia in goal differential.
Through Colombia's first two games--both victories--Valdés did not play. Instead, Jose Pekerman deployed Mario Yepes and Cristián Zapata in the center of defense. Today, they will both be watching from the bench. Éder Álvarez Balanta of River Plate will be Valdés' center back partner for this game.
Valdés didn't have the easiest or most straightforward path to the World Cup. After leaving Santa Fe of the Colombian league in 2011, he became a standout center back in MLS. Valdés earned All-Star honors during his time in Philadelphia, but that was not enough. Colombia coach Jose Pekerman wanted his players playing in leagues that he perceived as better than MLS. In 2013, Valdés was loaned out to Santa Fe, his former club. He played over 30 games as his team reached the finals of the Liga Postobón. In 2014, he joined San Lorenzo of the Argentine Primera División on loan. Earlier this month, Pekerman named Carlos Valdés, as well as former Union 'keeper Faryd Mondragón, to Colombia's 23-man roster.