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.
MORE: USA cold weather strategy is risky
“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)
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 pm: 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 US roster for this international break is winger Gio Reyna, who has been unable to shake off a frustrating hamstring injury. Otherwise, the roster is full of top-tier US talent with the likes of Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest all available and ready to go.
MORE: USMNT roster for January qualification matches
Matt Turner, who was rumored just a week prior to be set for a move to Arsenal, is expected to start in goal, with Zack Steffen still in England dealing with a reported back problem. Miles Robinson is a lock to start at center back, but it’s unclear who will partner with the Atlanta United man. Walker Zimmermann is a possibility, as is Mark McKenzie.
yunus musah, having scored for Valencia against Atletico Madrid in his last match, could be the one to join Adams and McKennie in a three-man midfield. Ricardo Pepi is expected to lead the US attack, supported by Pulisic and one of Brenden Aaronson or Timothy Weah. Or, Berhalter could sacrifice Musah to include both Aaronson and Weah in a 4-2-3-1.
USMNT projected starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): Turner (GK) — Dest, Zimmerman, M. Robinson, A. Robinson — Adams, McKennie, Musah — Pulisic, Pepi, Aaronson.
El Salvador subs (9): (Lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
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 Eric Zavaleta reportedly has a toe infection. Edward Vigil and Roberto Dominguez would be next in line to replace them.
There are options in midfield, with Narcissus Orellana and Marvin Monterroza both eyeing spots after starting in the last meeting, although either could be replaced by darwin ceren. A positive COVID-19 test is set to keep 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 US player Christian Roldan — plays on the opposite flank. Joaquin 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 projected starting lineup (4-4-2, left to right): Gonzalez (GK) – Larin, Vigil, Dominguez, Tamacas – Duenas, Monterroza, Ceren, Roldan – J. Henriquez, Rivas.
El Salvador subs (9): (Lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
How to watch USMNT vs. The Savior
- Date: Thursday, Jan. 27
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TVChannel: ESPN2
- Spanish-language TV: UniMas, TUDN
- streaming: FuboTV, ESPN+ (subscription required)
TheUnitedStates 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 accessible by a free trial for new users.
USMNT vs. El Salvador betting odds, pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of Draft Kings
Pick: USA win & under 2.5 goals (+140)
Forecast: 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
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.