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Little by little the US men’s national team are making progress in the soccer world.
They’ve clinched the inaugural Concacaf Nations League title, recently lifted the 2021 Gold Cup trophy, and have also started to develop a growing list of young talent.
There’s plenty of deserved plaudits for what the USMNT is accomplishing, but nonetheless, a World Cup qualifying match away from home is a different beast altogether.
As for El Salvador, they may not have the same potential as the United States, but they are thriving under new manager Hugo Perez and will get a chance to host the upcoming match.
With fans back in the stands at the Estadio Cuscatlan, the USMNT could run into some trouble.
|El Salvador vs United States Information|
|Teams||El Salvador vs United States|
|Location||Estadio Cuscatlan (San Salvador, El Salvador)|
|Time||Thursday, September 2nd at 7:05 pm PT/10:05 pm ET|
|How to Watch||CBS Sports Network, Paramount+|
The USMNT could make a case for themselves as the new top dogs in the Concacaf region.
They’ve defeated Mexico twice since June in the official finals and have yet to lose to any team within North America since 2019.
It’s exciting stuff for the young group of players, but nothing will prepare them for the unique level of stress and intensity that World Cup qualifying provides.
Different pitches, long travel, animosity from fans and much more can create a hostile environment that greatly favors home teams in these games.
And Thursday’s will be no different.
In their last eight World Cup qualifying games at the Estadio Cuscatlan, El Salvador have only earned one defeat — a 3-1 loss to regional giants Mexico back in 2016.
There’s plenty of history in the massive 50,000+ capacity stadium, and the good news for local fans is that it will be open to adults who are fully vaccinated and wearing a mask.
Even with these limitations, the atmosphere should be an incredible one for El Salvador.
With the benefit of playing their last nine games on home soil, it has been interesting to note how tight and close matches have been for the USMNT.
Perhaps due to a new generation being worked through or some inconsistency from promising but young options, five of their last six wins were narrow 1-0 victories.
It speaks volumes about the room for growth for the USMNT, and without that safety net of playing on familiar ground, they could stumble into some problems this week.
Although the new era of the USMNT has garnered much praise, there is something to be said about El Salvador under Perez as well.
Almost overnight, the coach has molded them into a dynamic and attack-minded squad.
Despite their exit in the quarterfinal stage of the 2021 Gold Cup, El Salvador played some of the most thrilling and engaging soccer of the entire tournament.
In fact, from teams outside of the top four, El Salvador finished with the best xG (expected goals) tally in the competition.
They’re now shot-happy as well with an average of 13.62 opportunities per 90 minutes during the Gold Cup.
El Salvador will be sure to test the United States, and regardless of the scoreline that should end in a draw, they’ll make things challenging for their visitors.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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