The United States has put itself in a great position through eight matches of 2022 World Cup qualification.
The job, however, is far from done, as they get set for the match against El Salvador tonight in Columbus, Ohio. As the first of three matches in six days, the United States can begin tying a bow on a place in this winter’s big dance in Qatar.
Gio Reyna is injured, but otherwise the USMNT roster is loaded, with all the stars available for action. Head coach Gregg Berhalter and his team are salivating at the chance to finish what they started this World Cup cycle.
“The group has had experience in World Cup qualifying, the group is more healthy now, and the group is confident,” Berhalter said about the squad heading into the El Salvador match. “All those things are in our favor, but at the end of the day it’s about performing on the field. We can do all the talking on the field, but it will be about showing it on the field.”
El Salvador, meanwhile, is in dire straits. The nation sits seventh among the eight remaining CONCACAF teams, eight points adrift of the intercontinental playoff spot. The room for error has been exhausted, and any more slips would pretty much extinguish the glimmer of hope still remaining.
“We know it’s an opponent that’s going to be aggressive, they’re going to be pressing really high, and we have to move the ball quickly,” Berhalter said during his pre-match news conference. “They were the best pressing team in the first eight games in terms of amount of presses, so it’s an aggressive team and we have to be prepared.”
Sporting News will follow the match live and provide score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
USMNT vs. El Salvador live score
(All times Eastern)
6:13 p.m.: Gregg Berhalter says that he chose Jesus Ferreira at striker because he has better hold-up play than Pepi, which will be important today in the tactical setup they’ve chosen.
Berhalter to @SamBorden:
“In this game we’re expecting to play into our forward a lot, use him as a point to draw their defenders out, and Jesús does a good job of that. Ricardo Pepi’s been good for us and I’m sure we’re going to see him in this window. Today we chose for Jesús”
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) January 27, 2022
6:00 p.m.: Lineups are in, and it wouldn’t be a USMNT match without some key surprises. First and foremost, Ricardo Pepi misses out up front, with FC Dallas teammate Jesus Ferreira earning the start up top. Chris Richards starts at the back in place of Miles Robinson.
El Salvador has a surprise appearance by Brayan Landaverde in midfield, as the 26-year-old earns just his fifth national team cap at the all-important defensive midfield spot.
Full rundown of lineups & team news below.
5:35 p.m.: Gyasi Zardes is ready for the winter weather, of which there is some currently in Columbus.
Heading to the stadium in Columbus. Currently 31 degrees and light snow.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) January 27, 2022
5:25 p.m.: Hype video!
5:05 p.m.: A number of USMNT players are in transfer limbo while on national team duty this January, but one has had his future sealed. Goalkeeper Matt Turner, who is likely to start tonight with Zack Steffen still in Manchester dealing with a back injury, has sealed a summer move to Arsenal, according to a host of reports earlier today. Congrats to Matt, a former undrafted free agent, on a massive step up.
Within the last hour, the parties have agreed to terms on a summer transfer of @headdturnerr to @Arsenal. Documents remain to be filed. What a moment for @NERevolution and especially Matt Turner. Undrafted to THIS!!!
Now he must deliver for the @USMNT tonight.
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) January 27, 2022
5:00 p.m.: The USMNT will wear its broken glass home kit tonight, with the purple goalkeeper getup. I think this year’s kit is wildly underrated — a really fun, energetic design that’s not too busy as to be painful. I enjoy this one a lot.
USMNT vs. El Salvador lineups & team news
The only missing name on the U.S. roster for this international break is winger Gio Reyna, who has been unable to shake off a frustrating hamstring injury. DeAndre Yedlin is a spectator not in uniform after arriving late from Turkey due to an ice storm. Otherwise, the roster is full of top-tier U.S. talent with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest all available and ready to go. Pulisic, Adams, and McKennie all start in a match for the first time since 2019.
Matt Turner, who earlier today completed a switch to Arsenal, starts in goal with Zack Steffen still in England dealing with a reported back problem. Walker Zimmerman starts at center back, partnered with Bayern Munich youngster Chris Richards, with Miles Robinson saved for other matches.
Yunus Musah, having scored for Valencia against Atletico Madrid in his last match, will be the one to join Adams and McKennie in a three-man midfield. Ricardo Pepi was expected to lead the U.S. attack, but his FC Dallas teammate Jesus Ferreira makes his first World Cup qualifying start up top instead. He’s supported by Pulisic Timothy Weah who is preferred to Brenden Aaronson.
USMNT starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): Turner (GK) — Dest, Zimmerman, Richards, A. Robinson — Adams, McKennie, Musah — Pulisic, Ferreira, Weah.
USMNT subs (9): Johnson (GK), Arriola, Zardes, Aaronson, M. Robinson, Morris, Roldan, McKenzie, de la Torre, Pepi, Cannon, Acosta.
In the 0-0 draw between these two teams in the reverse fixture, El Salvador manager Hugo Perez opted to clog the midfield and make life difficult for the Americans, who only held 49 percent possession despite the talent gap. Perez is likely to do that again, using either a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1, but it could face issues along its back line.
Center back Ronald Rodriguez, who recently signed with USL Championship side FC Tulsa and was excellent the last time these teams met, has not been able to secure a visa and Eriq Zavaleta reportedly has a toe infection, although he makes the bench. Eduardo Vigil and Roberto Dominguez are next in line to replace them.
There were options in midfield, and its Darwin Ceren and Brayan Landaverde in a rotation of the squad from last time out. A positive COVID-19 test keeps Christian Martinez out.
On the wing, 20-year-old Enrico Duenas, who hails from Dutch club Vitesse, has seen time in every World Cup qualifier, and Alex Roldan — brother of U.S. player Christian Roldan — plays on the opposite flank. Joaquín Rivas is a consistent presence up top, but has failed to score in World Cup qualifying after a three-goal performance in last summer’s Gold Cup.
El Salvador starting lineup (4-4-2, left to right): Gonzalez (GK) — Larin, Vigil, Dominguez, Tamacas — Duenas, Landaverde, Ceren, Roldan — J. Henriquez, Rivas.
El Salvador subs (9): Alguera, Carabantes, Villalobos, Zavaleta, Flores, Bonilla, Calvillo, Rivas, K. Reyes, Portillo, W. Martinez.
How to watch USMNT vs. El Salvador
- Date: Thursday, Jan. 27
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ESPN2
- Spanish-language TV: UniMas, TUDN
- Streaming: FuboTV, ESPN+ (subscription required)
The United States vs. El Salvador match from Lower.Com Field in Columbus, Ohio, as part of CONCACAF World Cup qualification is avaliable on TV across the United States on ESPN 2, or streaming on ESPN+. The match is also available to stream via FuboTV, which is accessable by a free trial for new users.
USMNT vs. El Salvador betting odds, pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Pick: USA win & under 2.5 goals (+140)
Prediction: USA 2-0 El Salvador
- Moneyline: USA -500 / Draw +500 / El Salvador +1200
- Spread (Asian Handicap): USA -1.5 (-130) / El Salvador +1.5 (+110)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -110 / Under -115
- Both teams to score: Yes +200 / No -280