July 18, 2017

The Semper Soccer Blog USA vs. El Salvador 2017 Gold Cup Preview

It’s time for the knockout rounds of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Eight teams survived group play and now the quarterfinals await. No more second chances. No other team can help you out. You win or go home from here on out for the United States men’s national team as well as El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico and Honduras. The Stars & Stripes are still in it so we continue to follow along here on the Semper Soccer blog. This is the USA vs. El Salvador 2017 Gold Cup preview.

How They Got Here

Matt Miazga scored a diving header late against Nicaragua to secure first place in Group B for the USMNT.

Matt Miazga scored a diving header late against Nicaragua to secure first place in Group B for the USMNT.

The USA advanced this far as the winners of Group B. After opening the competition with a draw against Panama, they defeated Martinique and Nicaragua. That unbeaten record earned the team seven points. Panama actually tied the U.S. on seven points. Because both teams also tied with a plus-four goal differential, the group winner was decided by goals scored during the group stage. Since the United States scored seven and Panama tallied six, the Americans topped Group B.

El Salvador enters the quarterfinals as one of the top two third-place finishers. They opened Group C play with a 3-1 loss to Mexico before earning a 2-0 win over Curacao and wrapping up with a 1-1 draw versus Jamaica. Those results totaled four points, keeping them ahead of Martinique in the ranking of third-place teams. Now they meet one of the favorites to win the tournament when they face the United States.

The Matchup

To put it bluntly, this is the best possible draw for Bruce Arena’s USMNT. Arena took full advantage of his six roster changes to bring in some fresh legs and veterans to push toward winning this tournament. We’ll detail those a little later in the projected lineup but these are names everyone knows and expects to perform. With names like Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey now on the roster, the USA should be able to boss this game.

El Salvador will likely concede the majority of the possession to the U.S. That means they need to take advantage and control the ball all the way through the field. Passing in the midfield hasn’t clicked the way it did against Ghana earlier this month but this is the time to get that back on track. If the U.S. can connect passes, that will allow them to dictate the pace of the game which leads to a wealth of scoring chances.

Just like the last group stage game against Nicaragua, there won’t be a shortage of chances for the United States. The goal is to score early on with El Salvador pinned back. Put a couple goals on the board early, seize control right away and the USA will have an opportunity to cruise to victory.

The USA vs. El Salvador 2017 Gold Cup Preview Projected Lineup

With the knockout rounds upon us, Bruce Arena has some new names on the roster to choose from. Tim Howard, Darlington Nagbe, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Jesse Gonzalez joined the team this week. Those are veteran names that Arena planned on bringing in to get them through (hopefully) three more games. In fact, expect to see a familiar 4-4-2 formation with five of these guys starting already.

Arena still has some decisions to make with this lineup, mostly across the back line. Only Jorge VillafaƱa has a guaranteed spot in the defense. Eric Lichaj most likely continues to rotate with Graham Zusi at right back while Arena chooses to play it safe in the center of the field.

USA vs. El Salvador 2017 Gold Cup preview projected lineup

USA vs. El Salvador 2017 Gold Cup preview projected lineup

The Prediction

Again, this is the best possible matchup for the United States in this round. They’ll have chances to control this game all the way through and seize the lead right away. However, there is a lot of turnover on the roster. With the majority of those names coming in and starting right away, it’s possible the USA starts slow. After 25-30 minutes it will all start to click. Our pick: 4-0, USA.

How To Watch

Date/Time: July 19, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. Central

TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas

Watch Parties: Find your local American Outlaws chapter and enjoy the game together.

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