The Estadio Cuscatlan will be rocking on Wednesday night as El Salvador gets set to play its version of a World Cup final when it hosts rival Mexico in regional World Cup qualifying. It will be a classic David vs. Goliath matchup, and the Salvadorans will pull out all the stops to slay the giant of the CONCACAF zone.
El Salvador (1-2-2, 5 points), ranked No. 65 in the world, last qualified to a World Cup in 1982, and La Selecta knew going into qualifying that its chances to advance to Qatar 2022 were slim. But since taking over as head coach, former U.S. national team player Hugo Perez has given the team an identity on the field and infused in it a sense of belief. It showed in its run to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals this summer when it played some entertaining soccer, giving Mexico all it could handle in a 1-0 group stage loss.
LIVE BLOG: Updates, commentary & highlights from El Salvador-Mexico
El Salvador’s 2-1 qualifying loss in Costa Rica on Sunday, a match in which it led 1-0, was its big chance for the upset road win that El Salvador needed to really fuel a dream run to the World Cup. But it came up short, and now only an unlikely win against Mexico would realistically be enough to revive those hopes. Although El Salvador gets to host another qualifier in November, it will then face its toughest stretch of the 14-match qualifying schedule with three straight road games that could decide its fortunes (at Panama, USA and Honduras). Bottom line: The Salvadorans need to beat Mexico.
The Mexican side, which rebounded from a 1-1 home draw against Canada by handling Honduras 3-0, is well aware of the stakes and the hostile atmosphere it will encounter. El Tri has already been treated to the overnight carnival outside its hotel room.
Mexico (3-0-2, 11 points) leads the CONCACAF qualifying standings, but head coach Tata Martino knows it won’t be easy against a feisty, hard-nosed El Salvador team that will fight for every ball. The Salvadorans have not conceded a goal at home so far in three matches against the USA (0-0), Honduras (0-0) and Panama (1-0 win).
The more veteran Mexican players know what it’s like to win in El Salvador: The two nations have faced off in qualifying for the last three World Cups, with Mexico winning twice in El Salvador (2-1 in 2012 and 3-1 in 2016) and El Salvador earning a famous home win in 2009 (2-1).
MORE: World Cup qualifying standings, schedule & highlights
How to watch El Salvador vs. Mexico
- Date: Wednesday, Oct. 13
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- TV Channels: CBS Sports Network (CBSSN)
- Spanish-language TV: Telemundo, Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV, Paramount+
The El Salvador vs. Mexico match will be available in English and Spanish in the USA. CBS Sports Network (English) and Telemundo and Universo (Spanish) will carry the TV broadcasts. All three networks are streamed on fuboTV, which is available for a free 7-day trial to new subscribers.
Paramount+ subscribers will also get access to the match stream in English.
El Salvador vs. Mexico: Lineups
El Salvador has several important players missing for this match, which will complicate things significantly. Center back Roberto Dominguez is suspended for yellow-card accumulation, and the Cuscatlecos were already without starting-caliber central defenders Eriq Zavaleta (concussion) and Ronald Gomez Rodriguez, who’s recovering from a fracture. The fill-in options are inexperienced.
As if that weren’t enough of a wrench in the team’s plans, it will also be without two starting midfielders: Narciso Orellana sits out after his red card against Costa Rica, and midfielder Jairo Henriquez will be unavailable after he pulled his right hamstring in the same game.
El Salvador lineup (4-4-2, left to right): 1-Mario Antonio Gonzalez-GK — 13-Alexander Larin, 6-Mario Jacobo, 16-Eduardo Vigil, 21-Bryan Tamacas — 20-Enrico Hernandez, 4-Isaac Portillo, 7-Darwin Ceren, 15-Alex Roldan (c) — 12-Marvin Monterroza, 11-Joaquin Rivas
El Salvador subs: 18-Yonatan Guardado-GK, 22-Kevin Carabantes-GK, 2-Lizandro Claros, 3-Jose Villalobos, 23-Herberth Marcelo Diaz, 5-Christian Martinez, 19-Denis Pineda, 14-Pablo Punyed, 10-Amando Moreno, 8-Joshua Perez, 9-Walmer Martinez, 17-Cristian Gil Hurtado
Plenty of changes by Mexico’s Tata Martino for the third and final match of the October window. He was already missing starting defenders Cesar Montes (yellow card accumulation) and Jorge Sanchez (muscle injury) and both have already returned to their club teams. Center forward Henry Martin is back from injury and is available off the bench.
Mexico starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 13-Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa-GK (c) — 5-Osvaldo Rodriguez, 15-Hector Moreno, 2-Nestor Araujo, 4-Julio Cesar ‘El Cata’ Dominguez — 10-Orbelin Pineda, 7-Luis Romo, 8-Carlos ‘Charly’ Rodriguez — 20-Alexis Vega, 11-Rogelio Funes Mori, 22-Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano
Mexico subs: 1-Jonathan Orozco-GK, 12-Rodolfo Cota-GK, 3-Johan Vasquez, 23-Jesus Gallardo, 21-Luis ‘Chaka’ Rodriguez, 18-Andres Guardado, 6-Jonathan Dos Santos, 16-Hector Herrera, 14-Sebastian Cordova, 19-Henry Martin, 17-Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona, 9-Raul Jimenez (Not in squad: Edson Alvarez, Uriel Antuna, Alfredo Talavera-GK)
El Salvador vs. Mexico: Betting odds & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Pick: Mexico -1.25 Asian Handicap (+100)
El Salvador’s home-field advantage should help keep the game close to start, but Mexico simply has too much quality and El Salvador is error-prone and missing key players in defense. With another trio of top attackers ready to come off the bench to keep up the pressure, Mexico should have the wherewithal to put together a multi-goal win.
The -1.25 Asian Handicap offers a bit of insurance should Mexico only manage a one-goal win. Since the -1.25 bet is split evenly over -1 and -1.5 spreads, half the bet would be refunded in that case.
Prediction: El Salvador 0, Mexico 2
- Moneyline: El Salvador +700 / Draw +340 / Mexico -270
- Spread: El Salvador +1.5 (-165) / Mexico -1.5 (+120)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over +115 / Under -150
- Both Teams To Score: Yes +165 / No -225