The game starts at 4 p.m. on ESPN Classic.
With the U.S. never having lost to El Salvador on American soil (although the U.S. had to come from behind to win its two World Cup qualifiers over El Salvador) the suspense surrounding this game has less to do with the result than who will go to South Africa for those players on the bubble of making the roster including an improbable, but possible appearance by veteran Jeff Cunningham.
Just before the USMNT broke camp in Carson last weekend I asked Coach Bob Bradley about the significance of this game given that so few players involved are likely to be a part of the 23-player U.S. World Cup roster:
“The last time around we all know it wasn’t what it needed to be; hopefully this will be a better performance,” he said, referring to the disappointing 3-1 loss last month at Home Depot Center against Honduras. “Anybody who comes into a camp in a World Cup year understands the importance of doing well.”
“It’s a follow-up on everything that took place in January,” he added. “It’s another chance for guys to play, show where they are in this whole thing and it has helped so as we make decisions the following Wednesday we’ve got a good up close look at a core of players with the idea that some of them are going to be part of that squad. The timing of the second game this time was in conjunction with the game against Holland (March 3) so now we can balance off our roster, understand where we were with players in Europe and then look at players here and really have a good handle on exactly where they are as we make decisions.”
I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with Bradley since the U.S. scheduled its last two World Cup warm-up games against the Czech Republic May 25 and Turkey May 29, so I asked him what the significance was in playing those two opponents in particular:
“The fact we are beginning our camp in the U.S. and felt if we could get a game or two in the U.S. (that) was important. Now you have to see what possibilities exists (in terms) of teams that will come to the U.S. But I do think that in both cases there are similarities with opponents, there are players on those teams I think are similar to different guys on teams that we’ll play against (in the World Cup group stage), so I think not only are they good teams but it will help us prepare well.”
*Five players in the squad were part of the 18 who dressed when the USA last met El Salvador in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Chad Marshall played 90 minutes in the 2-1 win Sept. 5, midfielder Kyle Beckerman making a late appearance as a sub in front of his hometown crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy while Brian Ching and Robbie Rogers didn’t make it off the bench.
*Ten players on the roster boast fewer than 10 caps, while at the other end of the spectrum striker Brian Ching has the most with 43.
*The American roster was given in the first link above, but here’s the roster for El Salvador. Chivas USA fans will have an added reason to watch this game closely – midfielder Osael Romero will join the club after the game and be presented at a press conference next Monday in Carson:
goalkeepers – Miguel Montes (Aguila), Dagoberto Portillo (F.A.S.)
defenders – Dennis Alas (Firpo), Alexander Escobar (Metapan), Marvin Gonzalez (F.A.S.), Mardo Henriquez (F.A.S.), Alfredo Pacheco (F.A.S.), Manuel Salazar (Firpo), Deris Umanzor (Aguila)
midfielders – Edgar Alvarez (San Jacinto College), Ramon Flores (F.A.S.), Josue Odir Flores (Metapan), Shawn Martin (Aguila), Juan Carlos Moscoso (F.A.S.), Osael Romero (Chivas USA), Ramon Sanchez (San Jose Earthquakes)
forwards Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Rudis Corrales (Aguila), Andres Flores (Metapan)
Interim El Salvador Coach Jos Luis Rugamas will coach his first game in charge of the team; predecessor Carlos de los Cobos joined the Chicago Fire this season.
*Finally, here are the line-ups the last time these two nations met:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector, 15-Chad Marshall, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey , 5-Benny Feilhaber (16-Kyle Beckerman, 80), 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (7-Stuart Holden, 73), 17-Jozy Altidore (14-Jose Francisco Torres, 85)
Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 11-Brian Ching, 13-Robbie Rogers, 18-Brad Guzan
El SALVADOR: 1-Miguel Montes; 3-Marvin Gonzlez, 4-Mardoqueo Gonzalez, 12-Manuel Salazar, 13-Deris Umanzor; 5-Ramn Flores (14-William Reyes, 63), 6-Arturo lvarez (8-Osael Romero, 50), 7-Ramn Snchez (capt.), 10-Eliseo Quintanilla (9-Rudis Corrales, 75), 17-Christian Castillo; 11-Rodolfo Zelaya
Subs not used: 2-Alexander Escobar, 15-Alfredo Pacheco, 16-Denis Alas, 18-Dagoberto Portillo