As the United States prepares to take on El Salvador on Wednesday in the 2017 Gold Cup quarterfinals, USMNT fans likely have many questions about El Salvador.
Here’s some information to help familiarize you with the U.S.’s opponent.
1. Who’s on the team?
Goalkeepers: Oscar Arroyo (Alianza), Derby Carillo (Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja), Benji Villalobos (CD Aguila)
Defenders: Alexander Larin (Alianza), Ivan Mancia (Alianza), Ruben Marroquin (Alianza), Milton Molina (Isidro Metapan), Henry Romero (Alianza), Bryan Tamacas (Santa Tecla FC)
Midfielders: Efrain Burgos (Reno 1868 FC), Darwin Ceren (San Jose Earthquakes), Oscar Ceren (Alianza), Roberto Dominguez (Santa Tecla FC), Andres Flores (New York Cosmos), Victor Garcia (CD Aguila), Gerson Mayen (Santa Tecla FC), Richard Menjivar (New York Cosmos), Narciso Orellana (Alianza), Denis Pineda (CD Santa Clara), Edwin Sanchez (CD Aguila)
Forwards: Rodolfo Zelaya (Alianza), Nelson Bonilla (Gaziantep Büyükşehir Belediyespor), Harold Alas (Santa Tecla FC),
Sixteen members of the 23-man roster ply their trade in the Salvadoran domestic league, the Primera Division. Eight of these sixteen feature for Alianza F.C.
2. Dynamic Duo: El Salvador’s offense is led by strikers Nelson Bonilla and Rodolfo Zelaya. Bonilla is a fast poacher who leads the team with two goals in the tournament. He has also contributed an assist.
Zelaya has chipped in with a goal and two assists. The duo will need to be in top form for El Salvador to pull off an upset.
3. How It Got to This Far: El Salvador qualified for the Gold Cup by finishing third in the 2017 Copa Centroamericana (a tournament consisting of six Central American CONCACAF teams). El Salvador advanced to the Gold Cup quarterfinals as the second best third place team (the top two third place teams advance). Playing in Group C, it lost 3-1 to Mexico, beat Curacao 2-0, and tied Jamaica 1-1.
4. Tactics: Head coach Eduardo Lara will likely deploy a 4-4-2. He used this formation in the team’s group matches against Mexico and Jamaica. El Salvador is a very physical team, and its players will look to attack and take the game to the U.S.
5. Uphill battle: El Salvador has never beaten the USMNT, holding a 0-17-5 record all time against the Yanks. The last time the two teams met was in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals in Baltimore. That match ended in a 5-1 USMNT victory.