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El Salvador biting antics add new layer to the bizarre world of CONCACAF

PHILADELPHIA – So you thought you’d seen it all in CONCACAF.

The region famous for laser pointers, bags of urine, egregious time wasting, swift kicks to star players and much more shenanigans reached a new high in ridiculousness on Wednesday night.

Not only was Jozy Altidore bitten by Henry Romero in a tussle on a set piece, he had his nipple twisted from behind by the El Salvador defender. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Omar Gonzalez was on the receiving end of a bite in the 81st minute, as Darwin Ceren tried to take a chunk out of him.

To any other team or player outside of CONCACAF, what transpired at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia would’ve been viewed as incredibly odd, but since this is CONCACAF, the incidents weren’t that shocking.

“My girl is mad at me,” Altidore said. “She’s mad at me. She’s mad at Romero. She’s like only I can bite you and only I can grab your nipple. It is what it is.” 

“It’s never happened to me before, but in CONCACAF, it never ceases to amaze me,” Altidore said. “We’re happy to move on and now we’re on to Costa Rica.” 

“When the guy bit me I was a bit shocked, but like I said you just have to move on as quick as possible and look toward the next play,” Gonzalez said.

Altidore deserves credit for not losing his temper in a situation where an all-out brawl could’ve taken place after such a violation, and although he admitted he was close to doing so, the forward had the betterment of his team in mind.

“You have to keep your cool because these things happen,” Altidore said. “I shouldn’t be saying these things happen, but they do. Just move on from it, learn from it and get ready for the next game.” 

The teething incidents were the highlights on a night of lowlights, many of which USMNT manager Bruce Arena frowned upon after the contest.

“I don’t think games should look like that,” Arena said. “Too many fouls. Time wasting. Players on the ground. Doesn’t prepare you for big games.”

“There should have been players sent off tonight in my opinion,” Arena said. “There’s a history of that in our sport. These games aren’t easy and clearly I would think the referee doesn’t want to send anybody off. Tonight there were a couple occasions where perhaps it would’ve gotten the game headed in the right direction. I certainly didn’t see the bite. Somebody showed it to me afterwards. I can’t fault the referee. Those things are not easy to see.” 

All of the antics on the field from the opposition gave Arena little chance to truly evaluate the players participating in the match, but sometimes in CONCACAF, you don’t get that opportunity. In fact, most of the time a competitive match is played in the North American region, you sadly expect some weird shenanigans to break loose, especially in the Gold Cup or World Cup qualifying.

In a normal world, the incident would be punished by CONCACAF, much like FIFA took care of the Luis Suarez situations, but after all this is CONCACAF.

“I’m sure CONCACAF will…I don’t know,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “I’m sure they’ll do what they’re supposed to do. You can’t go around biting people. That’s crazy. [Nipple twisting], that should be allowed, but the biting, no good.”



  1. Surprised no one has called for all the game officials to be suspended from both international and domestic matches? Ridiculous! Why didn’t the official look for a bite mark or confer with the AR? It used to common to blame poor officiating on C.American referees but this was a clown show from MLS PRO. I have seen this guy ruin a number of matches with pulling yellows for lesser infractions leading up to a questionable foul.

  2. Time for AR to be part of every tournament everywhere around the world, including WCQ matches. That would get rid of this behavior very quickly. When these guys know they will get caught and punished severely it will end, until then they will continue to play dirty.

  3. Another example of why the Gold Cup has been hard to watch. Teams using illegal players, El Salvador biting and punching their opponents. Tournament as a whole is a complete diseaster. The format should be reconsidered for the future possibly only letting certain teams in.

  4. Can’t remember a game in which the defense was this maligned … in a 2-0 win with both goals coming from defenders. One heck of a strange game.

  5. And dude punched Jordan morris in the stomach as he was running toward the box. Dirty but nothing entirely new just the way they play.

  6. I’ve never understood why the USSF doesn’t do something about this ridiculous behavior. File a complaint, refuse to play whomever, do something. Nothing is going to change until our federation stands up for our players. What’s it going to take, a career-ending injury to one of our players from a malicious foul or a thrown object from the stands?

  7. Anyone who plays against these guys from Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, etc…) knows they play jungle style. I was going for the ball once as it was heading towards the sidelines, and the opposition (Central American) coming from opposite side knew he wasn’t going to get to it before I did, and went for my other leg away from the ball. Class.

    Never played against anyone form anywhere in the world like these animals.

    • And Suarez bit Chiellini, so I guess all South Americans are animals. And Zidane head butted Matterazzi, so all Euros are crazy loose cannons.

      I play with and against a bunch of Salvadorans, they’re pretty good guys, and good players too.

  8. I don’t know what all the complaints are about. I get bit multiple times during matches, especially in the summer. The fact that it is mostly by mosquitos shouldn’t make a difference.

  9. [Nipple twisting], that should be allowed, but the biting, no good.” I didn’t realize that was the line we were drawing. Doesn’t sound like USMNT will even bother to file a formal complaint, which is a shame.

    Our defense was poor, but I believe the back 4 will be rotated wholesale for the next game. Bruce played his backup for ES to keep his primary line of Besler, Miazga, Zusi and Villafana fresh for CR. The front 6 will remain the same. But I was surprised Jozy and Deuce didn’t sub out toward the end.

    • Howard’s comment was tongue in cheek. Like saying, “Oh full cleats, stomp to the foot, that’s OK. But, elbow to the back of the head that’s not OK.” Nod, wink, wink.

  10. They’d better get their act together for Costa Rica. Hedges once again was turned and burned by some of the weakest Concacaf has to offer while Lichaj and co. Were not much more encouraging. Really quite Pathetic in many aspects. I expect them to have their most complete game of the tournament against Costa Rica but it must be said, this roster is plagued by players who have made a living while constantly demonstrating inconsistencies. Hopefully the reinforcements will begin to take hold and the rest will play off of that and gel against CR.

    Hedges sucks. Always has, probably always will. Has penchant for losing his man and has done it time and time again when it matter most for club and country. FC Dallas in Concacaf CL and we’ve seen him do it multiple times against, again, the weakest Concacaf has to offer. Bruce seems to like him though. Maybe he’ll come good. Eh, stinks.


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