The U.S. Men’s National Team continued its winning ways in the Ohio capital with a 1-0 victory against El Salvador in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,000 fans at Lower.com Field. The USA controlled play during the vast majority of the match, and defender Antonee Robinson produced the key moment in the 52nd minute scoring the game-winner to secure another three points for the USMNT in its quest to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
USA Beat El Salvador 1-0 In World Cup Qualifying
With the victory, the USA improves to 9-1-2 in World Cup qualifying matches in Columbus and 10-1-3 overall. Tonight’s result gives the USA 18 points from nine matches and means the USMNT will finish the evening in second place in the Octagonal standings with the top three finishers at the end of the final round advancing to Qatar. The USA will play the second of three winter World Cup qualifiers (which will take place in just a seven-day span) when it visits first-place Canada on Sunday, Jan. 30 in Hamilton (TV schedule).
After a challenging first half in which El Salvador defended well and the USA struggled on its final pass in the attacking third, the breakthrough finally came shortly after the break. Forward Tim Weah swerved through several defenders in the right side of the penalty area and pushed through a tackle to set himself up for a shot from close range, albeit from a tough angle.
El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez’s stood strong to make the save, but the ball popped high in the air. Forward Jesús Ferreira settled under it and headed it across goal to the left, past Weah, who tried an acrobatic volley but whiffed. The ball bounced to Robinson, who lined up a shot with his preferred left foot and smashed it into the net from seven yards out. The goal and his ensuing backflip celebration sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Led by hard-charging forward Jesús Ferreira, who was making his first WCQ start, the USMNT came out with a fierce high press from the opening whistle, ratcheting up the pressure on El Salvador early and forcing a number of mistakes.
Defender Sergiño Dest and forward Tim Weah proved a skillful and speedy pair on the right side and combined to put consistent pressure on El Salvador in the first half. One of the best chances came in the 19th minute when the buildup got the ball on the switch to Dest on the right wing and he sent a ball in for Weah, who got his head on the ball to redirect it to Ferreira, but his sliding attempt from close range went just over the crossbar.
El Salvador’s low block and sometimes chippy play slowed the game down at points in the midfield, but Los Cuscatlecos had a few forays into U.S. territory on the counter, with their best chance coming in the 27th minute. El Salvador did well to attack swiftly on the break, working it across to captain Alex Roldan (brother of USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan) on the right side of the penalty area and he ripped a shot just wide left that was probably El Salvador’s best look at goal on the night.
The U.S. created another few chances down the stretch with midfielder Yunus Musah taking a hard-hit shot in the 34th minute, but he spent most of the evening helping control the midfield. A nice cross-field run from captain Christian Pulisic saw him play Robinson before the left back played it to Weah, but his shot from near the penalty spot was deflected by defender Roberto Dominguez, who made a number of timely stops on the night.
Robinson’s goal seven minutes into the second half helped open up the U.S. attack as the USMNT created a number of threatening opportunities in the following minutes. Musah fired another shot on-target in the 55th, but Gonzalez was able to bat it away and on the ensuing corner kick midfielder Weston McKennie curled his header just over the crossbar.
Robinson had a second chance of his own in the 65th minute. Shortly after forward Brenden Aaronson entered the match, Robinson dribbled into the box and ripped a shot, but it was deflected by Gonzalez.
Both teams had a few last-gasp efforts as El Salvador had their most threatening look of the second half in the 85th minute when Bryan Tamacas played a ball into the box for Joaquín Rivas, but his well-hit header went just wide of the goal. Two minutes later on a free kick in the attacking third, Aaronson teed up a nice ball for Gyasi Zardes, but the forward, playing in his home club’s stadium, headed his attempt over the bar.
Substitutes Not Used: 19-Sean Johnson, 7-Paul Arriola, 12-Miles Robinson, 14-Cristian Roldan, 16-Mark McKenzie, 17-Luca de la Torre, 18-Ricardo Pepi, 22-Reggie Cannon
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
SLV: 1-Mario González; 21-Bryan Tamacas, 16-Eduardo Vigil, 3-Roberto Domínguez, 13-Alexander Larin (5-Nelson Blanco, 72); 15-Alex Roldan (capt.), 8-Bryan Landaverde (6-Narciso Orellana, 72), 7-Darwin Cerén (11-Joaquín Rivas, 83); 20-Enrico Hernández (10-Eric Calvillo, 58), 23-Cristian Gil (9-Nelson Bonilla, 58), 17-Jairo Enríquez
Substitutes not used: 18-Damian Alguera, 22-Kevin Carabantes, 2-Romulo Villalobos, 4-Eriq Zavaleta, 12-Kevin Reyes, 14-Isaac Portillo, 19-Walmer Martinez
Head coach: Hugo Pérez