Tag Archives: El Salvador

World Cup Qualifiers: USA 2-1 El Salvador

Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore (Jonathan Ferrye/Getty Images)

Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore (Jonathan Ferrye/Getty Images)

Watching the United States play in World Cup Qualifying should be a zen exercise because, really, only a zen master could stay calm the entire time. That means, by extension, that Bob Bradley is either a zen master or, perhaps, a high-functioning unemotional zombie. Who knows, really?

In tonight’s match, the United States continued a disheartening pattern in World Cup Qualifiers: it was scored upon first by an inferior team. That is not to say that El Salvador is bad; it’s just that the US and Mexico clearly have the most talent in CONCACAF. In any event, the US should be taking the game to its opponents rather than settling back.

I was truly impressed in August in Mexico City when the US attacked Mexico from the outset. The US looked good, using Donovan’s creativity and Charlie Davies’s speed to establish an early rhythm. It paid off with an early goal. The US did nothing like that today. Instead, they laid back, as if expecting the goals to come without effort. Perhaps they’re suffering from the same malaise as Mexico: they think they don’t need to work against lesser teams. That, of course, is just plain wrong.

That said, the US deserved their win. We can take three positives out of this game:

1. Jozy Altidore has the potential to be a beast. He needs practice, playing time, and patience.

2. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have a good connection. That needs to be exploited further in future matches.

3. Stuart Holden and José Francisco Torres looked really good as late-game substitutes. They brought a shot of energy and effort to the game, which was sorely needed.

On another note, the refereeing was typically terrible. FIFA really needs to step in and change the way CONCACAF referees operate. The second half was a disgrace.

QUICK KICKS: A quick CONMEBOL update in that Brazil thoroughly outclassed Argentina in Rosario by a score of 3-1. Hopefully, that match marks the end of Diego Maradona’s reign as Argentina’s manager, a job for which he was entirely unprepared.

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Gold Cup 2009: Coffee is for closers!

Ali Gerba scores v. El Salvador

Ali Gerba scores v. El Salvador

Team Canada had it’s Glengarry Glen Ross moment today against El Salvador. In striking first, once again off the foot of Ali Gerba, Canada had to hold its 1-0 lead against a really quite good Salvadoran side. It must be noted that the El Salvador side that showed up tonight was clearly not the side that gave the United States a run for its money only a couple of months ago. That said, Canada played very well and, after taking the lead, shut El Salvador down with very good ball possession and very good defense.

I was really impressed with Gerba. He was a constant threat against the Salvadoran defenders. I was also impressed by Will Johnson, except when he made an exceptionally poor decision to shoot rather than pass to a streaking Julian de Guzman. In reality, the final score should have been 3-0 or 4-0 but for Canada having the inability to finish effectively. Although the Canadian back four were solid, the team will still rue those missed opportunities.

I like that Canada didn’t let up; they kept attacking the Salvadoran goal, resulting in 6 (usually poorly taken) corner kicks. I really like what Stephen Hart is doing with the team: they’re hustling and playing very disciplined soccer. I don’t recall any Canadian player being caught out of position, which is a sign of a well-coached team.

El Salvador, for its part, looked very average. There was no urgency, even after they went down 1-0. It was as if they felt they could score any time. I really hope El Salvador isn’t going down Mexico’s path: trying only against the “good” teams.

For the time being, Canada is the first team through to the quarter-finals with 6 points. And that’s a good thing if you’re a Canadian soccer fan.

Team Canada deserves it coffee tonight.

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How to walk away with an Oscar, World Cup Qualifer edition

I was trying to watch a World Cup Qualifier and I ended up watching a telenovela. Around the 60th minute, Salvadoran players started dropping like flies. None of their injuries were particularly brutal – most of them rolled around on their backs and grabbed their calves – but it was the theatre of it all.

A brief description, which may or may have come from a script found in the trash at Estadio Cuzcatlán.

Salvadorans, seemingly in peak physical condition, were struck down by the vile US players. They yelled and collapsed to the ground, screaming for their mothers and wives and an end to it all. One or two of them shed a tear. I mean, not even Christian Bale can cry on demand. Well, maybe he can, but I’m scared to ask him about it. Teammates gathered around their fallen comrade and solemnly looked on; manly hand-holding ensued. There was, perhaps, some yelling in Spanish or Spanglish at the offending US player; if there was no offender, the closest player in a snazzy white striped shirt would due. The crowd hushed. The stretcher arrived, carried by 4 EMTs (or whatever the Salvadoran equivalent to EMTs is), and was laid carefully beside the fallen player. The player was gingerly lifted onto the stretcher and carried off the field to thunderous applause from his teammates and the crowd. The courage! The bravery! How could he ever go on?

The EMTs stood back after lowering the stretcher to the ground, safely off the pitch. El Salvador’s head trainer began his work, relying mostly on the Magical Soccer Spray. It is a tribute to their dedication to the Salvadoran national team, to pride itself, that the injured players, near death in all likelihood, stood up and re-entered the game. I can’t be sure if the clouds parted and sun shone only on them, but I’ll assume that’s what happened.

I half expected Half-Squat to present a little wooden Oscar to the keeper, Miguel Montés, who managed to delay 6 minutes. That’s right: he was down, inside his net, for 6 minutes. It was a masterful performance.

On a side note, the US came back to draw, 2-2. Frankie Hejduk was the best player in San Salvador on this particular evening.

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