Five Things to Know About El Salvador

The U.S. Men’s National Team will close out 2020 against regional rival El Salvador at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. on Dec. 9 (7:30 ET; ESPNEWS, TUDN, UniMas).


Here are five things to know about Los Cuzcatlecos before the USMNT’s final match of the year.




The smallest country in continental North America, the nation’s international soccer history dates back to 1921, when it participated in the Independence Centenary Games, held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Central American independence.


El Salvador has qualified twice for the FIFA World Cup, the fifth-most appearances in Concacaf. In 1970, Los Cuzcatlecos emerged as the winner of the region’s qualifying tournament, joining host Mexico in representing the confederation on the global stage. The small Central American nation qualified again for the 1982 tournament in Spain with a runner-up finish at the 1981 Concacaf Championship, its best-ever finish in the region.


El Salvador last reached the final round of World Cup qualifying in 2010, finishing fifth in the Hex. The nation has qualified for the last seven editions of the Concacaf Gold Cup.


The USA holds a 17-1-5 advantage in its 23 matches played against El Salvador all-time, including an undefeated streak that goes back to 1992. The USMNT last faced off against Los Cuzcatlecos in the 2017 Gold Cup. The teams met in thequarterfinals, a 2-0 win for the USA, with the goals coming from defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj.



Despite the dominant record, El Salvador has proven to be far from an easy out in Concacaf competition. When the countries squared off in the final round of 2010 World Cup qualifying, the USA had to come from behind in both matches - a 2-2 draw in San Salvador that was salvaged by late goals from Jozy Altidore and Frankie Hejduk as well as a 2-1 victory in Sandy, Utah.



Wednesday’s friendly will mark El Salvador’s first match since January 20, a hard-fought 1-0 defeat to Iceland at Dignity Healthy Sports Park in Carson, Calif. about two weeks before the USMNT’s February friendly against Costa Rica at the same venue. 


El Salvador was seeded in League B for the inaugural 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League. Los Cuzcatlecos finished first in their group to earn qualification to the 2021 Gold Cup and promotion to League A for the tournament’s next edition. El Salvador went 5-1-0 in Nations League play, winning its group by the widest margin in League B and allowing just one goal.


The U-23 USMNT also played El Salvador in South Florida last fall, a 6-1 victory for the U.S. Many players on the current USMNT roster took part - midfielder Djordje Mihailovic captained the squad, forward Sebastian Soto scored the USA’s third goal, while goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski and defenders Mark McKenzie and Sam Vines also appeared.

EYES ON 2021

Like the USA, El Salvador is preparing for a busy 2021 schedule. The Central American nation will kick off the first round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying during the March international window. Drawn into Group A alongside Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat and the U.S. Virgin Islands, El Salvador must top its group in round robin play and defeat the winner of Group F in a two-leg playoff to join the USA in the eight-team final round of qualifying.


Next summer’s Gold Cup will mark El Salvador’s eighth straight appearance in the tournament. During the competition’s first draw this past summer, Los Cuzcatlecos were joined Group A with Mexico, Curaçao and one team still to-be-determined.



In 2021, head coach Carlos de los Cobos will enter the fourth year of his second stint coaching Los Cuzcatlecos. He’s held in high regard in the country from his first stint (2006-2009), when he guided the National Team to the final round of World Cup qualification for the first time since the 1998 qualifiers.


A midfielder on Mexico’s 1986 FIFA World Cup squad, de los Cobos served as an assistant coach for Mexico at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, managed Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire from 2010-11, and has also coached several club teams in Mexico and El Salvador.


De los Cobos has gathered an El Salvador squad with significantly more experience than the USA’s exceptionally youthful roster. The Salvadorans average 27 caps, compared to the USMNT’s six as a total of 10 U.S. players seek to make their full international debut on Wednesday night.


The majority of El Salvador’s 19 players compete domestically, including six at Alianza, historically one of the country’s strongest clubs. Los Cuzcatlecos also ply their trade in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iceland and the United States -- two in MLS and one in the USL Championship.


El Salvador forward Dustin Corea played for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, representing the USA at the 2009 Concacaf U-17 Championship and spending two semesters in the team’s Residency Program. He began playing for La Azul y Blanco at the U-20 level but took the field for El Salvador before making an official change of association, forcing the nation’s disqualification from the 2011 Concacaf U-20 Championship.


Midfielder Andres Flores was teammates with current USMNT defender Marco Farfan at the Portland Timbers the past three seasons.



: Henry Hernandez (Malacateo; 39/0), Benji Villalobos (Aguila; 17/0)

: Roberto Dominguez (Bolivar/BOL; 33/1), Jonathan Jimenez (Alianza; 10/0), Alexander Larin (Isidro Metapan; 49/4), Ivan Mancia (Alianza; 25/0), Alexander Mandoza (Santa Tecla; 39/0), Bryan Tamacas (Alianza; 28/1)

Darwin Ceren (Houston Dynamo/USA; 59/3), Andres Flores (Portland Timbers/USA; 65/4), Marvin Monterroza (Alianza; 21/0), Narciso Orellana (Alianza; 32/1), Denis Pineda (Tecnico Universitario/ECU; 26/3), Juan Carlos Portillo (Alianza; 13/3), Pablo Punyed (Vikingur/ISL; 24/3), Rodrigo Rivera (Santa Tecla; 2/0)

Dustin Coreas (Mixco/GUA; 15/1), David Diaz (Santa Tecla; 5/0), Joaquin Rivas (Saint Louis FC/USA; 5/1)