The US men’s national team is reaching the final stretch of World Cup qualification, with the road to Qatar passing through Columbus, Ohio, once again in Thursday’s fight for the Concacaf Octagon against El Salvador. .
Columbus has long been a spiritual home for US men, and its Lower.com field served as the site of an October triumph over Costa Rica. Now, under frigid conditions, it will be the scene of the USA’s second leg against La Selecta, which held the Americans to a 0-0 draw to open qualifying on September 2.
Since then, El Salvador has picked up just five points from the ensuing seven games, while the US has risen to second place in the Concacaf table, well-positioned to qualify for the World Cup, provided it takes care of business. at home.
The United States will look considerably different from the group that fought in the hostile conditions of Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador nearly five months ago. For example, their entire starting lineup — Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Konrad de la Fuente — is not part of the current group, with Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah available for selection this time around and Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira among forward options. center. Surprisingly, the latter made headlines about Augsburg’s new signing (and his former FC Dallas teammate) on Thursday night.
American midfielder Tyler Adams is also in the starting lineup and has to play with caution. Due to a yellow card received earlier in the qualifying tournament, one more would result in a one match suspension.
The United States continues its qualifying campaign on Sunday in Canada before closing the window next Wednesday in Minnesota against Honduras. With away games in Mexico and Costa Rica, two places the US has never won in World Cup qualifying, scheduled for March, it is imperative that the US rack up as many points as they can in this window.
The USA pressed from the first shot and nearly forced a comical early goal, with Ferreira blocking goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez’s pass from behind, only for the Salvadoran to regain possession.
El Salvador did not seem particularly worried about the conditions and enjoyed a slight threat of a throw-in in the seventh minute. Fortunately for the US, Sergiño Dest reacted quickly to a cross, moving in front of Jairo Henríquez in the middle of the US box to cut off danger.
The United States had their first real and intentional moment of danger in the 10th minute with a corner kick earned by Weah. Yunus Musah cleared a Pulisic set piece, but his header from the center of the area was blocked and El Salvador cleared.
Pulisic had his own opportunity blocked on the edge of the Salvadoran area in the 13th minute, with Ferreira coming in behind the defense and crossing for the Chelsea star.
A couple of minutes later, Ferreira dodged his defense after deflecting Antonee Robinson’s short cross in the box and had a good look at goal, but fired over the goal.
Three minutes later, Ferreira returned to put over the crossbar. Dest darted down the right flank and crossed into the box, where Weah’s header finished off Ferreira just off the post. However, he opted to jump up and use the outside of his right foot to try and direct it on goal, and he missed from point-blank range to keep it 0-0.
After being on the defensive for a long period, El Salvador almost scored on the counterattack. Alex Roldan, whose brother, Cristian, plays for the US, fired a shot just off the far post after a pass from Dest at the midfield line, allowing the US to come out with a warning on instead of giving the host a disadvantage.
The United States came close to getting the go-ahead goal they were looking for in the 42nd minute, when Weah resolved a cross from Robinson and tried to shoot from the center of the area, but a last-minute tackle deflected the shot for a corner. , from which the US squandered its set piece opportunity.
Another moment just before halftime was also not to the USA’s liking, with Pulisic falling just inside the El Salvador box after a challenge from Alexander Larin, but no penalty was awarded despite pleas from the US captain. USA A goalless half is nothing new for the USA, who have only scored in the first half of two of their nine qualifying games to date.
Stay tuned here for live updates and summaries of goals and key plays from throughout the match. (update for latest updates).
These are the lineups for the night:
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism