Gold Cup Team Preview: El Salvador / by Harrison Crow

By Harrison Crow (@harrison_crow)

They're here and they're not terrible. I think that's all I really have about them. 61% of their roster is comprised of guys from the local league, which most know practically nothing about, and those that are playing abroad aren't exactly playing in top leagues. The team has hipster pick written all over it and I feel like I could get on that train.

How did they get here?
Qualified through Central American zone coming in fourth place in 2014 Copa Centroamericana, losing to Panama 1-0 in the 3rd place game.

Group B
CountryAvg AgeAvg CapsELOrankFIFArank
Costa Rica 26.7 32 16 14
Canada 26.3 23.5 78 109
Jamaica 26.6 21.6 80 65
El Salvador 24.9 17.7 88 89

What Group are they in?
They are in Group B, along with Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Canada. The winner will play Group A runner-up (probably Panama), the runner-up will play Group C runner-up (probably Trinidad & Tobago or Guatemala) and third place would be weighted against other third place teams for the chance to play the Group A (USA) or Group C (Mexico) winner.

How are they are ranked?
ELO Ranking: 88 FIFA Ranking: 89
I've mentioned this before. It's not so much that El Salvador is a bad team as much as they're just really average among a lot of other average teams. It's not fair to go “hard core” on the number 88 and really emphasize the point that they're 60+ rankings away from Costa Rica. It's fair to say Costa Rica is a better team but it's not as if there is an enormous gulf between the two.

Group Stage Schedule
DateTime (ET)CityVenueHomeAway
08-Jul 10:30PM Carson Stub Hub Center SLV CAN
11-Jul 9:00PM Houston BBVA Compass Stadium CRC SLV
14-Jul 6:00PM Toronto BMO Field JAM SLV

It's been almost three years since the two countries have met and in the last few meetings the game has been decided by a single goal. It's not that it's a huge deal but a single goal leaves a lot to luck in a game and crazy things happen in tournaments. Don't discard El Salvador. They're a team that has steadily gotten better and seen better results since 2007 and I feel like they could make a couple of surprising stands in group play.

Who is their Head Coach?
Albert Roca of Spain was hired in 2014. Spent time most of his playing career in La Liga 2nd and 3rd division. Since starting coaching he's been part of coaching staffs for both FC Barcelona and Galatasaray, winning league titles with both clubs.

PlayerPositionTeamCountryAgeCaps
Oscar Arroyo GK Alianza El Salvador 25 0
Derby Carrillo GK Santa Tecla El Salvador 27 8
Luis Contreras GK FAS El Salvador 32 3
Moises Xavier Garcia D FAS El Salvador 24 46
Alexander Larin D Juárez Mexico 22 24
Alexander Mendoza D FAS El Salvador 25 18
Milton Molina D Isidro Metapán El Salvador 26 23
Henry Romero D Águila El Salvador 23 4
Danny Torres D Alianza El Salvador 27 5
Jaime Alas M Municipal Guatemala 25 44
Arturo Alvarez M Videoton Hungary 29 36
Darwin Cerén M Orlando City USA 25 26
Dustin Corea M FAS El Salvador 23 6
Andres Flores M New York Cosmos USA 24 42
Jairo Henriquez M FAS El Salvador 21 0
William Maldonado M Santa Tecla El Salvador 25 2
Richard Menjivar M Tampa Bay Rowdies USA 24 23
Narciso Orellana M Isidro Metapán El Salvador 20 5
Pablo Punyed M Stjarnan Iceland 25 8
Raul Renderos M FAS El Salvador 26 16
Nelson Bonilla F Viitorul Constanța Romania 24 19
Rafael Burgos F Fredrikstad Norway 27 45
Irvin Herrera F Santa Tecla El Salvador 24 5

Who are the important players that I should know?
Alexander Larin (DEF)-
Larin is a youngster floating around Mexico's second division on loan from Tigres. Already with 24 caps at the spry age of 22, he's played some impressive minutes and put some impressive performances in against some really good teams. He might just be the break out player of the tournament.

Andres Flores (MID)- At 24 years old, he already owns 40 caps, picking up his first senior level cap at the age of 17. Formerly a member of Argentina's River Plate youth academy, he's netted two goals in eight games for the New York Cosmos and overall he's garnered enough attention for New York to purchase his contract from Isidro Metapán following an initial loan deal. He's a fascinating playmaker out of the midfield that plays a bit of a "ten" in the Diego Valeri mold (though not nearly to the same quality, obviously). His chemistry with Rafael Burgos will be vital.

Darwin Ceren (MID)- His involvement with the national team is rather new as he earned his first cap in 2012. Currently he's tied for third on Orlando with key passes, tied for first with the longest average pass and has won the most duels on the team. He's quietly been one of the top central midfielders in MLS this season, and the Gold Cup is going to be a magnificent stage to show what Orlando City has.

Rafael Burgos (FWD)- A lot of what happens in regards to how far El Salvador goes will come to how big Burgos plays in the group stage. His performance against Canada and Jamaica will be vital. However, his most prominent goals in the past year have come against lesser opponents (Belize and Guatemala) or in a losing effort (Ecuador). While coming up empty against Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

What have they done in the past?
2013: Lost in Quarter-finals to US (5-1), came in ranked 94th in FIFA
2011: Lost in Quarter-finals to Panama on PK's (5-3), came in ranked 87th in FIFA
2009: Did not make it out of Group Play (3 pts, Beat Costa Rica), came in ranked 100th in FIFA
2007: Did not make it out of Group Play (3 pts, Beat Trinidad and Tobago), came in ranked 130th in FIFA

What do we expect from them this go around?
In the last two Gold Cup's their team has ended up in the group of death, and this time, while they're not quite in the worst group per se, they find themselves in a bit of a spot. Any four of the teams could potentially see the group stage with El Salvador most likely sitting at the bottom. That being said, I feel like they're a team that could make things interesting. I want to believe they could find their way into a third place spot but I'm not certain I have enough faith for that.