USMNT Returns To World Cup Qualifying With Winter Showdown Against El Salvador In Columbus, OhioUSA Stands Second in Octagonal Table After Eight of 14 Matches; USA-El Salvador, Presented by Volkswagen, Set for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMas and TUDN
CHICAGO (Jan. 26, 2022) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to World Cup qualifying action this week when it faces El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio, a familiar fortress that promises frigid conditions in the midst of the Midwestern winter. After a strong start to its quest for Qatar, the USA enters the new year sitting second in the Octagonal standings and will look to take another step towards qualification against Los Cuzcatlecos.
With just six matches and three home games remaining, USA-El Salvador, presented by Volkswagen, represents another crucial stop on the road to the World Cup. Kick-off from Lower.com Field is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMas and TUDN.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION - JANUARY/FEBRUARY WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
GOALKEEPERS (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago
Fire FC; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 13/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 15/2), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 1/0), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 6/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 19/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Unattached; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 23/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 45/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 22/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 28/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 11/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 15/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 42/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 40/10), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 7/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 42/17), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 18/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 66/14)
USA SCHEDULE - JANUARY/FEBRUARY WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Scheduling changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have set the stage for a special January/February international window that features three World Cup qualifying matches. With Canada choosing to host the middle match of the slate in Ontario, the U.S. will double down on the wintry conditions and unleash a unique home field advantage in the arctic climes of Columbus and St. Paul, Minn. Both venues’ groundskeeping crews have the playing fields ready to roll, and the USMNT squad is excited to take on the polar conditions.
“You know what? I want it to be freezing. I want it to be cold,” said USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman. “I want the snow. I want to be a part of something so iconic that I saw and I really remember growing up. And that’s exciting to me. So, I think the guys are ready to embrace it, and it will be a really good environment for us fan-wise as well.”
The USMNT has a long, storied history in Columbus as the Ohio capital has played host to 13 matches. There have been 11 World Cup qualifiers here overall, the most of any city in the country. The USA has posted an 8-1-2 record in C-Bus in qualifying, highlighted by four “Dos a Cero” triumphs over Mexico. The eight qualifying wins in Columbus are the most for the USMNT in any city.
The USA added another chapter to its history in Columbus last October, a 2-1 victory against Costa Rica in the USMNT’s first match at the newly-opened Lower.com Field. Despite falling behind early, Sergiño Dest equalized with a spectacular strike and Tim Weah forced an own goal to complete the comeback win.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter spent five seasons as sporting director and head coach of the Columbus Crew before joining U.S. Soccer in December 2018. He led the Crew to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in charge, including a trip to the 2015 MLS Cup Final.
Through the first eight matches of the Octagonal, 26 players have made their first World Cup qualifying appearance and the U.S. has twice fielded the youngest ever starting line-ups for the USA in a qualifying match.
Sixteen players on the current roster have appeared in at least four games of the Octagonal. Forward Brenden Aaronson and midfielder Tyler Adams are the only two to have appeared in all eight so far.
LAST TIME OUT
The USA capped off 2021 with a last-minute 1-0 win in a friendly vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina in Carson, Calif. Rostering a mostly domestic-based squad of players who had recently finished their Major League Soccer season, 20-year-old Cole Bassett netted the game-winner in the 89th minute, becoming the 57th player to score in his USMNT debut.
The USMNT’s last World Cup qualifying matches came during the November international window. Kicking off the slate in Cincinnati, the USA delivered an emphatic 2-0 “Dos a Cero” win against archrival Mexico. Forward Christian Pulisic scored the first goal shortly after entering as a substitute while midfielder Weston McKennie added an insurance goal. In Jamaica for the team’s final Octagonal match of 2021, Tim Weah made an impressive run to open the scoring but a thunderstrike from the Reggae Boyz’ Michail Antonio leveled terms and the match end in a 1-1 draw.
El Salvador hosted the U.S. in both teams’ opening match of the Octagonal on Sept. 2 in San Salvador. In front of a raucous home crowd, 12 USMNT players made their World Cup qualifying debuts in a 0-0 draw against the physical Central American side on a choppy playing surface. Goalkeeper Matt Turner recorded his sixth career shutout in his first WCQ action.
EL SALVADOR AIMS TO STAY ALIVE
El Salvador enters 2022 at seventh place in the Octagonal with six points, eight behind the fourth-place berth to the intercontinental playoffs.
Coached by former USMNT star Hugo Perez, Los Cuscatlecos brought in a number of players with U.S. ties for this World Cup qualifying cycle. El Salvador’s lone Octagonal win came at the start of the October window, a 1-0 home triumph against Panama. In the November window, Alex Roldan (brother of USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan) salvaged a draw vs. Jamaica with a 90th minute goal at home before the team fell 2-1 to Panama despite an early lead in Panama City.
CONCACAF TO IMPLEMENT VIDEO REVIEW FOR REMAINING WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Concacaf announced that VAR technology will be implemented for the remaining 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, beginning with the matches on Jan. 27. The technology was used successfully in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League Finals, the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, and the latter stages of the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
Teams qualify for the World Cup through their regional confederations, and the USMNT has to run the gauntlet of Concacaf (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) to reach Qatar 2022. For the first time, eight teams are contesting the final round of World Cup qualifying for Concacaf from September to March. The nations play a 14-match round-robin, home and away against each of the seven other teams.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Cup qualifying schedule has been condensed from 18 months to seven. To accommodate the new schedule, the USMNT has to play three matches during four of the five international windows rather than the usual two matches.
ONLY FORWARD/SOLO PA’LANTE
U.S. Soccer kicked off World Cup qualifying with the launch of “Only Forward,” / “Solo Pa’lante,” the USMNT’s creative campaign focused on uniting fans and the team in a collective journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Developed in conjunction with the players, coaches and staff, “Only Forward / Solo Pa’lante” highlights a young, diverse and global-minded Men’s National Team that is humble yet resilient as it looks to tackle the challenge of World Cup Qualifying during the next eight months. As the USMNT continues to gain valuable experience on the road to Qatar, it’s ready to show the world that they are prepared to change the way the world views American soccer.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Goalkeeper Zack Steffen experienced back tightness last weekend and his status is day-to-day.
- The roster’s domestic contingent (13 players) spent Jan. 7-21 training together in Phoenix before joining the European-based players in Columbus this week.
- The average age of the January WCQ roster was 24 years, 294 days on the first day of training on Jan. 24.
- Seventeen players are age 24 and younger.
- The roster averages 21 caps, with 11 in official competition.
- Players represent clubs in 10 different countries: USA (13), England (3), Germany (3), Spain (2), Belgium (1), Austria (1), France (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1) and Portugal (1).
- Of the 28 players, 23 were part of the USMNT’s November World Cup Qualifying roster.
- Veteran defender DeAndre Yedlin (71) is the leading cap winner on the roster, followed by Gyasi Zardes (66), Kellyn Acosta (45), Paul Arriola and Christian Pulisic (42 each).
- Tyler Adams, Steffen and DeAndre Yedlin are all carrying cautions. Another yellow card for any will result in a one-match suspension.
- Jordan Morris receives his first World Cup Qualifying summons since September 2017. The veteran forward made his first USMNT appearance in more than two years during last month’s friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Four players are seeking their WCQ debuts: Reggie Cannon, Sean Johnson, Brooks Lennon and Gabriel Slonina.
- Seventeen players were part of the USMNT’s September qualifying roster when the team played El Salvador, Canada and Honduras.
- Forward Brenden Aaronson and midfielder Tyler Adams are the only two players to appear in all eight World Cup Qualifiers thus far.
- Midfielder Weston McKennie (yellow card accumulation) and defender Miles Robinson (red card) return to the qualifying roster after missing out on the Nov. 16 match at Jamaica due to suspension.
- McKennie returns to the USMNT fold after scoring two goals in his last two matches for Juventus. The 23-year-old also became the youngest U.S. international to achieve 50 Serie A appearances during the club’s 2-0 win against Udinese on Jan. 15.
- Full back Antonee Robinson bagged his third goal across all competitions and registered his second assist in Fulham’s 6-2 win against Birmingham City on Jan. 18. Robinson has appeared in 21 of 26 league matches for the EFL Championship leaders this season.
- After suffering a quad injury at the beginning of December, attacker Tim Weah returned to the lineup for Lille on Jan. 19, coming on in the 68th minute of the Ligue 1 side’s 3-1 win against Lorient.
- Sixteen players have appeared in at four or more qualifying matches during this cycle: Aaronson, Acosta, Adams, Dest, Lletget, McKennie, Musah, Pepi, Pulisic, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, Roldan, Turner, Weah, Yedlin and Zimmerman.
- Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola and Sebastian Lletget each previously tallied against El Salvador in the 6-0 friendly win on Dec. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale.
- After missing out on the November camp through injury, Sergiño Dest returns to the USMNT roster as it convenes in Columbus. In the team’s last visit to Lower.com Field, the full back scored what ended up being the team’s Goal of the Year, leading the comeback in the USA’s 2-1 win against Costa Rica on Oct. 13, 2021.
- Wednesday marks the 26th meeting all-time between the USA and El Salvador. The USMNT holds an 18-1-6 edge in the series, outscoring Los Cuscatlecos 60-15 and enters the match on an 18-game unbeaten streak vs. the Salvadorans.
- The USA is 5-0-4 vs. El Salvador all-time in World Cup qualifying, including a 3-0-1 record at home.
- The USMNT kicked off the Octagonal at El Salvador on Sept. 2, 2021, a 0-0 draw in front of a raucous crowd at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan.
- The nations also met in a friendly on Dec. 9, 2020, a 6-0 victory in which Aaronson netted his first international goal. Lletget also scored in the match.
- Prior to this cycle, the teams last played in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup: both come-from-behind results for the USMNT. The U.S. drew El Salvador 2-2 at Estadio Cuscatlan in March 2009 on late goals from Jozy Altidore and Frankie Hejduk and also came back for a 2-1 win in Sandy, Utah in September 2009.
EL SALVADOR ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kevin Carabantes (FAS; 4/0), Mario González (Alianza; 19/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Roberto Domínguez (Chalatenango; 48/1), Alexander Larin (Comunicaiones/GUA; 70/4), Ronaldo Rodriguez (FC Tulsa/USA; 18/0), Bryan Tamacas (Alianza; 52/1), Eduardo Vigil (Firpo; 7/0), Romulo Villalobos (Municipal Limeno; 5/1), Eriq Zavaleta (Unattached; 13/1)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Eric Calvillo (El Paso Locomotiv/USA; 3/0), Darwin Cerén (Houston Dynamo/USA; 81/4), Enrico Hernández (Vitesse/NED; 8/1), Bryan Landaverde (FAS; 5/0), Christian Martinez Mena (San Carlos/CRC; 7/0), Marvin Monterroza (Alianza; 40/2), Narciso Orellana (Alianza; 44/1), Kevin Reyes (FAS; 4/0), Alex Roldan (Seattle Sounders/USA; 12/2)
FORWARDS (5): Nelson Bonilla (Port FC/THA; 49/16), Cristian Gil (Metapan; 1/0), Jairo Henríquez (Aguila; 23/3), Walmer Martinez (Monterey Bay; 18/2), Joaquín Rivas (FC Tulsa/USA; 24/4)
IN FOCUS: EL SALVADOR
- El Salvador are managed by former U.S. international Hugo Pérez. The Salvadoran-born midfielder earned 73 caps and scored 13 goals for the USMNT from 1984-1994 and was part of the U.S. roster for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, appearing in the Round of 16 match against Brazil.
- Pérez scored a critical goal for the USA vs. El Salvador during its qualifying campaign for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the USA’s first appearance on soccer’s biggest stage in 40 years.
- El Salvador (1-4-3; 6 pts.) enter the January window sitting seventh in the Octagonal table. During the November window, Los Cuscatlecos drew 1-1 at home against Jamaica (Nov. 12) and fell 2-1 at Panama (Nov. 16).
- Goals have been hard to come by for El Salvador during qualifying, with Los Cuscatlecos finding the back of the net just four times in eight matches. Jairo Henriquez leads the way with two goals, while Enrico Hernandez and Alex Roldan have also scored.
- Pérez summoned a 23-player squad for the winter qualifying window. Twelve players are based domestically, with two featuring in MLS, four in the United Soccer League and one each in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Thailand and the Netherlands.
- Domestically, Alianza has provided the most players to the squad (four), followed by FAS (three).
- Of the MLS-based players, there is one interesting connection to the USMNT. Alex Roldan is the younger brother and Seattle Sounders teammate of USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan. Born to a Salvadoran mother and Guatemalan father, Cristian chose to represent the United States while Alex 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. He tallied his second in a 1-1 draw vs. Jamaica in WCQ on Nov. 12.
- Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Céren (81 caps), 32, who has served as Los Cuscatlecos’ team captain, is the most experienced player on the roster.
- Midfielder Alexander Larin, who performs for Comunicaciones (Guatemala) is next with 70 international appearances.
- Forward Nelson Bonilla, who plays for Port in Thailand, is the squad’s leading scorer with 16 goals in 49 matches.
- Five rostered El Salvador players are on caution watch heading into the match: Enrico Hernandez, Bryan Landaverde, Alexander Larin, Marvin Monterrosa and Eriq Zavaleta.