Preview: USMNT Closes the Year Against El Salvador With Eye Towards Busy 2021 Schedule

Watch USA-El Salvador From Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN News, UniMás and TUDN

CHICAGO (Dec. 8, 2020)—The U.S. Men’s National Team will close out 2020 against regional foe El Salvador at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, Dec. 9.  Coverage of USA-El Salvador begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN News, UniMás and TUDN. Fans will also be able to follow via Twitter @USMNT, Instagram @USMNTFacebook, and the official U.S. Soccer App.


After the global COVID-19 pandemic put international soccer on pause for much of 2020, Wednesday’s match will mark the third for the USMNT in less than a month. Falling outside of a FIFA fixture date, 20 of the 22 eligible players come from Major League Soccer clubs, comprising a mix of established USMNT veterans along with players eligible to represent the United States in the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship slated for March.


Gregg Berhalter’s youthful roster features 10 players who could make their USMNT debut, while 15 are age-eligible for the Tokyo Olympics next summer.


Due to the current conditions related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the match will be conducted under U.S. Soccer’s Return to Play Protocols, with a stadium capacity limited to 2,500 fans.


GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (Benfica/POR; 0/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 7/0), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0)


DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 17/3), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; 1/0), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 12/2)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 1/0), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 23/2), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 16/3), Andrés Perea* (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 7/0)


FORWARDS (7): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Efrain Alvarez* (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 33/5), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 5/1), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Sebastian Soto (Telstar/NED; 1/2)

*Players are currently ineligible to represent the United States


USMNT forward Paul Arriola began the year by logging 90 minutes in the team’s 1-0 friendly win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif. His year was turned upside down weeks later when he suffered a torn right ACL in a preseason match with D.C. United. Facing a lengthy recovery, Arriola was determined to work his way back to the field and when he heard there was potential for a USMNT camp in December, made it a goal to be part of the roster.

Arriola took the first step when he made a substitute appearance in D.C. United’s regular season finale against the Montreal Impact on Nov. 8. He was then named to the USMNT roster a week ago and with 33 caps, is the most experienced player on the current squad.


With an almost entirely domestic-based roster this month, the U.S. Men’s National Team called in some of the very best that Major League Soccer has to offer. On the back line, recently-crowned Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman, his 21-year-old Best XI counterpart Mark McKenzie, 2018 Defender of the Year Aaron Long and rock-solid rookie Mauricio Pineda make up the central defender corps.


Throw in the team’s European-based contingent including John Brooks, Matt Miazga, and emerging Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards, and the competition at center back should be one of the most intriguing during the USMNT’s 2022 World Cup cycle.



Gregg Berhalter has not been shy about giving players a chance. Through his first 21 matches as head coach, he’s overseen the debuts of 29 different players, more than any other USMNT manager in the same amount of time.
Nine players earned their first caps during the two matches in Europe last month, and with 10 eligible uncapped players on the roster, we will almost certainly see multiple players earn their debuts against El Salvador on Tuesday.  

Check out the number of debuts which occurred under each modern era USMNT head coach through their first 21 games and
read up on the new players in camp who could add to Berhalter’s total.


Head Coach

Debuts Through 21 Matches


Gregg Berhalter



Bob Bradley



Dave Sarachan*



Bruce Arena



Bora Milutinovic



Steve Sampson



*Dave Sarachan managed 12 matches as USMNT head coach



Continuing the statement that occurred during last month’s matches in Europe, the USMNT will once again wear anthem jackets bearing
“Be The Change” across their chests with the goal of inspiring action on social justice issues. The spirit of their message is that each and every person has the ability, opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in our own way. Each player will once again have the opportunity to include a personalized message representing something meaningful to them.



Wednesday will mark the 24th meeting all-time between the USA and El Salvador, but just the third contest in the last decade. The USMNT holds a commanding 17-1-5 all-time advantage against Los Cuzcatlecos, with the last encounter coming in the Gold Cup quarterfinals – a 2-0 win on July 19, 2017 in Philadelphia.


The match also serves as El Salvador’s first since international soccer was paused due to the global health pandemic. The Central American side last turned out in a 1-0 defeat to Iceland on Jan. 20 in Carson, Calif. The match will serve as an important restart for the side as it prepares to tackle early round World Cup qualifying beginning next March.


The USMNT roster has undergone some changes since it was first announced last Monday. San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, Telstar forward Sebastian Soto and Orlando City SC Andrés Perea midfielder have joined the team in Fort Lauderdale.


Two players originally announced are no longer part of the squad. FC Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale and has remained in quarantine. Marcinkowski was a direct replacement for goalkeeper David Ochoa, who left camp after being diagnosed with a right quadriceps strain.

One of two European-based players in the squad, Soto was made available for Wednesday’s contest after receiving a two-match league ban stemming from the red card he received during a match for Telstar last Monday. The striker made a short but memorable USMNT debut last month, with his two second-half goals in the 6-2 win against Panama making him just
the second player in team history to score multiple goals off the bench in a debut match.


Andres Perea, a dual citizen of Colombia and the United States, is one of two players on the camp roster that are currently ineligible to represent the United States because he represented Colombia at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Attacker Efrain Alvarez is in a similar situation after playing for Mexico at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Both players would need to file and be approved a one-time change of association request with FIFA in order to play for the United States.



  • The 22 eligible players hold an average age of 23 years, 95 days.

  • The average number of caps is six.

  • Ten players will seek their USMNT debuts on Wednesday: goalkeepers CJ Dos Santos and JT Marcinkowski; defenders Julian Araujo, Kyle Duncan, Marco Farfan and Mauricio Pineda; midfielder Cole Bassett; and forwards Ayo Akinola, Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller.

  • The five most-capped players on the roster are Paul Arriola (33), Kellyn Acosta (23), Aaron Long (17), Sebastian Lletget (16) and Walker Zimmerman (12).

  • Twenty of the 22 eligible players hail from Major League Soccer clubs. The Colorado Rapids lead the way with three players. The Chicago Fire, D.C. United, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes each have two players on the roster, while Nashville SC, Portland Timbers and Toronto FC are represented by one player.

  • The two foreign-based players are striker Sebastian Soto (Telstar; Netherlands) and goalkeeper CJ Dos Santos (Benfica; Portugal)

  • Fifteen players are age-eligible for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.



: 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)


N FOCUS: El Salvador

  • Wednesday marks the 24th meeting all-time between the USA and El Salvador, with the USMNT holding a sizable 17-1-5 all-time advantage in the series.

  • The United States is unbeaten in 17 consecutive matches against El Salvador (14-0-3) dating back to Las Cuzcatlecos’ only win, a 2-0 home victory in a friendly in San Salvador on Feb. 19, 1992.

  • The teams last met in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup, a 2-0 USMNT win on July 19, 2017 in Philadelphia. USMNT defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj scored the goals in the span of six minutes.

  • Carlos de los Cobos is in his second stint leading El Salvador. A midfielder on Mexico’s 1986 FIFA World Cup squad, de los Cobos last managed Los Cuzcatlecos from 2006-2009, memorably leading the nation to the final round of qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

  • The USMNT went 2-0-1 in three matches against El Salvador during de los Cobos’ first tenure. Those contests include the two matches during the final round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying – a 2-2 draw on March 28, 2009 in San Salvador and a 2-1 win on Sept. 5, 2009 in Sandy, Utah. The USMNT also defeated El Salvador 4-0 during the Gold Cup group stage on June 12, 2007 in Foxborough, Mass.

  • This will be El Salvador’s first match in more than 10 months, since a 1-0 loss against Iceland in Carson, Calif. on January 20. Prior to that defeat, La Seleccion had run off four consecutive wins, all in the CONCACAF Nations League from September to November 2019.

  • As the sixth-ranked team in Concacaf, El Salvador will compete in the first round of World Cup qualifying in March 2021. Los Cuzcatlecos were drawn into Group A alongside Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat and U.S. Virgin Islands. The winner of each of the six groups advance to the second round, where three teams will join the top five-ranked Concacaf nations (including the USA) in the eight-team final round of qualifying.

  • El Salvador’s roster carries an average of 27 caps, a stark contrast to that of the USA’s with just six.

  • 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 this past season in MLS and one in the USL Championship.

  • Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Ceren leads the 19-player roster with 59 caps.

  • Midfielder Andrés Flores was teammates with USMNT defender Marco Farfan at the Portland Timbers the past two seasons.