Reigning CONCACAF Nations League champions USA continue the defence of their crown on Wednesday, as they meet El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlan.
The Americans arrive in San Salvador having won their opening game of the new campaign, while their hosts have taken four points from two matches to top the early League A Group D standings.
Though considered outsiders for group victory behind their next opponents, El Salvador led the table thanks to a win and a draw in consecutive fixtures with promoted Grenada.
Having won their League B group during the 2019-21 CONCACAF Nations League, the Caribbean team were brushed aside at the start of the current campaign, with El Salvador claiming a 3-1 home victory on the opening day.
Last Wednesday, though, Los Cuscatlecos were held to a 2-2 draw by the minnows in St. George’s, and were reliant on a late equaliser from substitute Cristian Gil to save their blushes at the Kirani James National Stadium.
As the winners of the competition’s League A groups will advance to the finals in June 2023, and it also serves as qualification for next year’s Gold Cup, the upcoming clashes with favourites USA are likely to be decisive.
The top two finishers in each League A group qualify directly for the confederation championship, so keeping ahead of the Grenadians is a minimum requirement for Hugo Perez’s squad, who came up well short in World Cup qualifying – El Salvador last reached the global finals back in 1982.
With just two wins from their eight matches since losing to the US back in January, at the end of the road to Qatar, the chances of ending a 17-match winless run against this week’s visitors are particularly slim.
After sealing their spot at this winter’s World Cup finals – where they have been drawn into Group B alongside Wales, Iran and Euro 2020-finalists England – the US have continued an impressive streak of results this summer.
Gregg Berhalter’s men kicked off this month’s international window with a convincing 3-0 victory over Morocco, and four days later, the USMNT extended their unbeaten streak on American soil to 25 games with a goalless draw against Uruguay.
They then continued that run to a 26th game: easing to a 5-0 win over Grenada on Saturday, in their opening Nations League fixture as reigning champions – equalling a national record set between 2013 and 2015.
A year since their thrilling extra-time defeat of Mexico in the inaugural tournament’s final, when they twice came from behind to take the trophy, the Stars and Stripes now aim to take the lead in Group D with a win on Wednesday, before warming up for Qatar 2022 with two final friendlies in September.
As Berhalter’s new-look squad was the youngest to qualify for the World Cup, with an average age of only 24.07, the future certainly looks bright for the US, but they will be determined not to take their eyes off the present.
El Salvador CONCACAF Nations League form:
El Salvador form (all competitions):
USA CONCACAF Nations League form:
USA form (all competitions):
We say: El Salvador 0-2 USA
After they prevented El Salvador from getting even a single shot on target when the two nations last met, at the start of the year, the US are clear favourites despite being the away side.
With time to impress their coach before the World Cup fast running out, the visitors will be motivated too, so can score at least once themselves to secure victory.