2022 Concacaf World Cup Qualifying USA vs El Salvador Match History Preview Five Things to Know

The USMNT faces El Salvador in the opening match of its 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign on Thursday, Sept. 2 (10:05 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network, Paramount+ and UNIVERSO)
Michael Lewis

The U.S. Men's National Team begins a long journey in its quest to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar when it visits El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador on Thursday, Sept. 2 (10:05 p.m. ET; CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, UNIVERSO).

This is the fifth time the national teams have tangled in World Cup Qualifying, having met in 1989, 1997, 2004 and 2009.

The game kicks off an arduous schedule for both sides that consists of three-game in seven days. The USA will host Canada in Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 5 before returning to Central America to face Honduras on Sept. 8.

El Salvador will follow up with another home match against Honduras on Sept. 5, before a visit to Canada on Sept. 8.



El Salvador is trying to snap a nine-cycle streak of failing to reach the World Cup. It has competed in the Concacaf final round in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2010 World Cup qualifying tournaments. The Central Americans finished fifth and last in 1990 (0-4-2), third out of four teams in 1994 (2-4-0), fifth out of six teams in 1998 (2-4-4) and fifth out of six teams in 2010 (2-6-2).

Los Cuscatlecos have participated in the global event twice - in 1970 and 1982. The team finished last - 16th and 24th - in both competitions.


Hugo Pérez should be a name quite familiar to soccer fans as the former USMNT midfielder helped the United States qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup and played for the U.S. at World Cup ‘94.

Today, he is directing the country of his birth. After emigrating with his family to the Los Angeles area as a nine-year-old, Pérez gained U.S. citizenship years later. Considered one of the best attacking players of his era, Perez scored 13 goals in 73 international matches.

Perhaps his most memorable goal came against El Salvador. In a game that was moved to Tegucigalpa, Honduras because of crowd violence during a previous qualifier in El Salvador, Perez scored the lone goal in the 62nd minute to boost the USA to a 1-0 win on Sept. 17, 1989, and a big step toward qualifying for its first World Cup in 40 years.

He earned many honors during his playing days. The midfielder was the 1991 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the year and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008.

Perez served as U.S. Under-14 and U-15 coach from 2012-14 before becoming an assistant coach with El Salvador from 2015-16, taking the reins as the U-23 coach and later the full national side earlier this year.


El Salvador has experience playing several games during a short span as it recently recorded four wins in an 11-day span during the first two rounds of World Cup qualifying in June.

The Salvadorans won  Group A with a 4-0-0 mark, outscoring their foes, 16-0. David Rugamas led the way with six goals while Joshua Perez – Hugo’s nephew and a former U.S. youth international -- added three. In their 7-0 win at the U.S. Virgin Islands on June 5, Rugamas recorded a 12-minute hat-trick in the waning minutes. Defender Marvin Monterrosa added a brace and Juan Portillo and Perez had single tallies. The Central Americans blanked Antigua and Barbuda at home, 3-0, on June 8, with Eriq Zavaleta, Walmer Martinez and Rugamas scoring.

In the second round, they shut out Saint Kitts and Nevis, 4-0, on the road on June 12 as Rugamas bagged a brace and Perez and Darwin Ceren added goals. El Salvador finished up on a high note with a 2-0 home win on June 15 as Perez and Gerson Mayen found the net.

Most recently, El Salvador reached the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup, losing 3-2 to Qatar. La Selecta finished the group stage at 2-1-0, highlighted by a pair of 2-0 victories against Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago. Alex Roldan, the younger brother of USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan, and Joaquin Rivas performed late heroics in the former match while Jairo Henriquez and Martinez tallied in the latter. Mexico edged La Selecta, 1-0, before Qatar eliminated the team from the competition in the knockout round.

Most recently, El Salvador played Costa Rica to a 0-0 draw in Carson, Calif. on Aug. 21.



Whether its friendlies, the Concacaf Gold Cup or World Cup Qualifying, the USMNT has dominated the series, owning an 18-1-5 advantage while outscoring the Salvadorans, 60-15. They bring a 17-game unbeaten streak (15-0-2) against their foes into the contest. El Salvador's lone victory was a 2-0 friendly win on Feb. 19, 1992, in San Salvador.

The USA holds an unbeaten 6-0-2 record against Los Cuscatlecos in World Cup Qualifying, scoring 13 goals and conceding five. The Americans are 2-0-2 away from home in the series, which includes a 1-0 win at a neutral site in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Sept. 19, 1989. Hugo Perez, the current El Salvador manager, scored the lone goal in the 62nd minute.

In the most recent encounter between the sides, the USA registered a 6-0 friendly triumph in Fort Lauderdale, Fla on Dec. 9. Chris Mueller scored twice in the opening half while Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, Brendan Aaronson and Ayo Akinola - who since switched to play for Canada - also tallied goals.



Hugo Pérez summoned a 28-player squad for the September qualifying window. Seventeen players are based domestically, with three featuring in MLS, four in the United Soccer League and one each in Costa Rica, Guatemala and the Netherlands.

Of the MLS-based players, there are a couple very interesting connections to the USMNT. Alex Roldan is the younger brother and Seattle Sounders teammate of USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan. Born to a Salvadoran mother and Guatemala father, Cristian chose to represent the United States while Alex recently made the decision to play for El Salvador.

The younger Roldan debuted and scored his first international goal in the team’s opening match of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, a 2-0 win against Guatemala.

Currently with Miami FC of the USL, forward Joshua Pérez is manager Hugo’s nephew and also recently declared to play for El Salvador. The younger Pérez was teammates with Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic on the USA squad for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Finally, midfielder Amando Moreno actually was an unused substitute for the USMNT in the team’s 3-1 friendly win against Puerto Rico on May 22, 2016 in Bayamon.

Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Céren is the most experienced player on the roster and serves as El Salvador captain, but his participation for Thursday’s match is in doubt after suffering an injury in the club’s 2-1 defeat to Minnesota United on Saturday.

Kevin Carabantes (FAS; 3/0), Mario González (Alianza; 11/0), Yonatan Guardado (Once Deportivo; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Lizandro Claros (Aguila; 0/0), Roberto Domínguez (Chalatenango; 41/1), Ronald Gómez (Aguila; 9/0), Alexander Larin (Comunicaiones/GUA; 61/4), Miguel Lemus (Chalatenango; 5/0), Bryan Tamacas (Alianza; 41/1), Eduardo Vigil (Firpo; 0/0), Eriq Zavaleta (Toronto FC/CAN; 8/1)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Melvin Cartagena (Once Deportivo; 0/0), Darwin Cerén (Houston Dynamo/USA; 66/4), Enrico Hernández (FC Eindhoven/NED; 0/0), Christian Martinez Mena (San Carlos/CRC; 0/0), Marvin Monterroza (Aliana; 28/2), Amando Moreno (New Mexico United/USA; 4/0), Harold Osorio (Alianza; 1/0), Narciso Orellana (Alianza; 38/1), Alex Roldan (Seattle Sounders/USA; 4/1)

FORWARDS (8): Jairo Henríquez (Calatenango; 11/1), Joshua Pérez (Miami FC/USA; 10/3), Walmer Martinez (Hartford Athletic; 8/2), Denis Pineda (FAS; 27/3), Kevin Reyes (FAS; 1/0), Joaquín Rivas (FC Tulsa/USA; 14/4), Erick Rivera (Santa Tecla; 2/0), Styven Vásquez (Aguila; 1/0)