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Report: September’s USMNT qualifier in El Salvador could be moved to USA due to COVID-19 restrictions


The U.S. men’s national team is scheduled to kick off its World Cup Qualifying schedule on September 2 with a road trip to El Salvador, but travels plans could wind up changing now due to COVID-19 issues in the Central American country.

The El Salvador Ministry of Health is proposing a 90-day plan preventing spectators at outdoor events in hopes of controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the country, an announcement stated Tuesday. Should the plan be approved, the USMNT-El Salvador match would be played behind closed doors in El Salvador, or potentially moved to the United States.

In addition to the USMNT-El Salvador match, La Selecta would also have to face Honduras (September 5) and Panama (October 7) without fans if the proposal were approved. The earliest that El Salvador could play a home qualifying match with fans in San Salvador would be October 13 against Mexico.

El Salvador Federation President Hugo Carrillo confirmed on Tuesday that Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Houston are all possible venues to host El Salvador’s home qualifying matches if fans are not allowed to attend qualifiers in El Salvador.

“Suspend for a term of 90 days from the effective date of this decree, any concentration of people in acts of a public or private nature referred to concerts, rallies, sporting events open to the public or celebrations of patron saint festivities, consequently, is revoked by Ministry of law, any permission to carry out such activities,” read the initiative presented by Minister of Health President Francisco Alabi Tuesday.

El Salvador has been hit hard by COVID-19, seeing 81,644 overall cases occur since the start of 2020, with 2,451 deaths.

El Salvador’s national team is currently at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, coming off a 2-0 group stage win over Guatemala on Sunday. Up next for El Salvador is a showdown with Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday before a group stage finale on Sunday against Mexico.


  1. Although it wouldn’t be as hostile as playing in El Salvador, those three locations would definitely produce pro El Salvador crowds.

    • The main advantage the US gain would be to play In the US climate and on a US quality pitch compared to what they would face in El Salvador.

      Not having fans in El Salvador would still make this a lot easier on the US. Need 6+ points this next window if this comes to pass

      • The travel would be advantageous as well DC to Nashville to San Pedro Sula is way better than train in US fly San Salvador back to Nashville then back to Central America.

      • You have to parse through what all creates the home field advantage. They would have a decent amount of their fans being loud but not as much. But they hopefully would not be as obnoxious and violent, bags of wiz, etc. And it would probably be reffed more like a home game or neutral site as opposed to a road contest. A lot of “home field” is the distortion of refs letting the home team muscle around their opponent. ES probably no longer gets to “hack a Shaq.” And then two domestic games followed by a trip abroad is easier on us than flying back and forth to Central America. Which to me is the other serious half of home field, tired travel legs.

      • ES starts with 2 home games then Canada so their smartest site selections would be northern cities in the neighborhood of their road game. Same spot or at least progressing in the direction of the Canada home site. Kinda depends where Canada wants to play at home for whether we get a short flight or not. I would think East half of the country for a game after playing us in Nashville. DC from the list.

        One other factor to be considered is making sure this game gets held if the virus gets worse here. Positivity rate has doubled down here in recent weeks. Delta is about to visit. A red state is less likely to postpone the game or ban fans no matter what happens. A blue city/state might take measures. If you were concerned whether we call off sports or play closed door games — just like in ES — you’d favor a red state, Texas, Florida.

    • Given how US fans have been reluctant to support this team with ticket purchases El Salvador will definitely outdraw the US in either DC or LA. There are large populations in both of those cities.
      As for closing stadiums in the US, the states that would consider closures are also the states with the highest vaccination rates and thus not need them. El Salvador’s vaccination rate is around 20% that’s why they are in a bad spot right now.

      • DC’s vaccination rate is barely over 50%. we are nowhere near herd immunity and our general approach to the virus is “pants down,” as opposed to say NZ where they rarely even get cases. if the virus is here we can have problems in the susceptible half. and to be clear cases and hospitalizations are going up in about 40 of the 50 states.

        i’m telling you, delta is coming, and if ES wants their games held in the re-site anymore than ES, they should anticipate whether the local/state government will give a crap when the graphs start going up. i wish it mattered most whether it was good public policy but last winter suggests we will accept our losses.

      • Having been to at least a dozen Soccer matches at the Rose Bowl & L. A. Coliseum, I would say that for a W/C Qualifier, the U.S. fans would outnumbered those for E/S. If it were a “Friendly”, then maybe the other way around. By September, I do not see any problem with the U. S. being able to obtain a “Friendly” venue for any home match.

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