Soccer Predictions: USA Starts Knock Out Phase Against El Salvador
Team USA has one goal in mind with the CONCACAF Gold Cup and that is to win the whole thing. They played three uninspiring matches in the qualifying round, but they did enough to emerge victorious in Group B. That put them in the advantageous position of facing the third place team from Group C, El Salvador.
In preparation for the knock-out phase, coach Bruce Arena is pulling out all the stops, making some major roster changes now that the stakes are high. The qualifying stage seemed to be all about giving younger and less experienced players exposure to the international game with a long-term view for the World Cup and beyond. Now that’s it’s one and done, he’s calling upon some of the biggest names in US soccer to help support the journey including Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley.
How good is Dempsey? One more goal ties him with Landon Donovan for most in international play with 57. That’s an incredible accomplishment. His experience in big games should provide a huge ripple effect to the whole team.
El Salvador qualified for the knockout stage by tying the tournament’s 2015 runner-up Jamaica in their final qualifying match of the group round. Los Cuscatlecos opened the scoring in the 15th minute and held on for the key point. Only the two best third place teams qualify for the quarterfinals.
The USA has won this tournament five times, second only to Mexico. The last time came in 2013 and perhaps the team sees it as a good omen that they’re facing El Salvador at this point in the game. They ended up winning it all that year, and the same happened in 2002 the first time these teams faced off in the quarters.
El Salvador has never made it past the quarterfinals in this tournament since the tournament began in 1991. They’ve also never won more than one game in any of their Gold Cup appearances. This will be their fifth time making it out of the group stage.
Only one player on their team plays for MLS and that is San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Darwin Ceren. Four others play at the lower US level, the NASL and they all play together for the New York Cosmos. 15 other players are based in El Salvador with one more playing in Iceland.
These teams have played in this tournament five times with the US winning each match and outscoring their opponents 17-1. In 2013 the score was 5-1. Team USA is 13-0-2 all-time versus El Salvador on US soil and 16-1-5 overall.
Cash It In: USA are -450 favorites, El Salvador +1000 underdogs and the draw sits at +500. It would be a monumental upset to say the least for USA to fall. The recent additions have made it that much tougher on the visitors. USA 4-0.
Soccer Expert Picks: Team USA -450 & Over 3