The United States Men’s National Team won a gutsy, messy and muddy 1-1 draw against El Salvador thanks to Jordan Morris’ late goal at Cuzcatlan Stadium in CONCACAF Nations League action on Tuesday in San Salvador.
Played in the pouring rain on a pitch that already looked like a below-average neighborhood park just after the winter thaw, the return and effort was remarkable at a venue that saw the teams draw 0-0 in qualifying for the World Cup.
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Alexander Larin tricked USMNT goalie Ethan Horvath in the first half rooted in a puddle of mud, but Morris came off the bench to force Luca de la Torre’s cross home for an equalizer as both teams finished with 10 men.
Paul Arriola was shown a red card in the 70th minute for a reckless challenge, but El Salvador’s Ronald Rodriguez was then sent off in the 78th minute for a Yunus Musah takedown.
The draw gives the USMNT four points from two matches, while El Salvador has seven from three. Grenada has one in three.
The tournament will only end after the World Cup. The Yanks will travel to St. George’s to face Grenada on March 24 before hosting El Salvador three days later.
It’s hard to take anything away from this game.
But as this is one of the few times we will have the opportunity to see Gregg Berhalter’s men play in the American jersey before the World Cup, we will have to do our best.
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El Salvador vs USMNT final score, stats
El Salvador 1, USMNT 1
Scorer: Larin (36′), Morris (90′)
Ownership: El Salvador 37, USMNT 63
Three things we learned from El Salvador against the USMNT
1. Can’t learn much from football, but can learn a lot about football crew: There are some who will jump to conclusions based on those 90 minutes on a pitch that seemed more likely to produce torn ACLs than highlight goals. And, of course, El Salvador scored a goal and delivered a typically physical performance against the Americans. But it wasn’t like the pre-game antics at Couva where Bruce Arena made jokes about the state of the pitch and the team then put on a tasteless spectacle.
On the contrary, the Yanks worked hard and produced the lion’s share of chances in C-level competition on a field they might have scoffed at as dismal. In fact, it could have been a 5-2 win on another day had it not been for a sensational display from Salvadoran goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.
If you have read this space you will know that I have a lot of concerns about the Gregg Berhalter era but there is no doubt in my mind that it was a victory for his team and a heartfelt sign from the heart that American football fans have come to identify with their team since the first 15 years of this century. If the away draw in the same building in the World Cup qualifiers looked like this, there would have been fewer complaints.
2. Arriola sent off in slightly controversial fashion: The quality of the pitch and the weather conditions give any player some leeway, but Paul Arriola’s slippery effort to catch a ball in the Salvadoran box caught Alexander Larin with his foot well above the turf and on the shoe. It was questionable given the no-calls against El Salvador, but it’s certainly not the first time a player has been sent off for a similar move.
3. We shouldn’t be too hard on Horvath: Nottingham Forest goalkeeper and CONCACAF Nations League final hero Ethan Horvath hasn’t had too many looks between the sticks for the USMNT thanks to Zack Steffen and Matt Turner, but he’s really tough to judge him for a mistake made essentially in a swamp.
Horvath remained rooted to his mud puddle in the middle of the six when Alexander Larin’s shot beat him to the near post. He should have read shot instead of cross, but Reggie Cannon didn’t shut down the shooter/crosser and looked just as faulty given the conditions. It’s a shame that any player’s World Cup hopes can crumble on a night like this. We’re pretty sure Berhalter won’t be too swayed by the mistake, but you never know…
Man of the Match: Yunus Musah The Valencia man was spectacular. He fired the red card on Rodriguez and you feel a box with a real foot would have found Musah with a pair of goals.
Manchester City win the Premier League title on the epic final day.
El Salvador vs USMNT final score: Morris tossed in mud Originally published on NBCSports.com