World Cup 2014

World Cup: For longtime MLS man Arturo Alvarez, El Salvador showing an important step

Arturo Alvarez in action for El Salvador

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USA Today Sports

FRISCO, Texas – It was an exciting homecoming for one of Texas’ own as former FC Dallas midfielder Arturo Alvarez played for El Salvador against World Cup-bound Ivory Coast, and got his team on the scoreboard with a well-taken penalty kick in the 75th minute in a 2-1 loss in a Road to Brazil friendly.

A very significant and supportive portion of the 18,578 announced attendance was wearing blue and white and cheering for Los Cuscatlecos at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night. Close to 2,000 alone stood and cheered in the supporters section for Central Americans, and a clear majority of fans throughout the stadium were on the side of La Azul y Blanco.

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Alvarez, who played from 2005 to 2008 in Dallas, came on in the 72nd minute for starter Jaime Alas and within three minutes, was over the ball to take the penalty kick that made the game a one-goal match.

“Coming back to Dallas and to my home state feels good,” Alvarez said. “I have nothing but good memories. Obviously, El Salvador has a big community here – Dallas, Houston and Austin – it was a great atmosphere, a good game against a tough opponent.”

The midfielder, who also played for the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake while in Major League Soccer, credited the support for helping the team give the African powerhouse a challenging game.

“Ivory Coast is a very physical and strong opponent and have a lot of quality players on their side," he said. "We battled it out. I think we played a really good game and the crowd really helped us a lot.”

In the 74th minute, Ivory Coast defender Kolo Touré was called for a foul on Orlando City player Darwin Ceren. Alvarez, a Houston native, powered the ensuing penalty kick past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

“I have been working on taking PKs with my club,” said Alvarez, who currently plays in Hungary for Videoton. “I was looking at the keeper until the last second and I picked a side and made sure I hit it low and hard.”

Alvarez’s effort was a part of a strong second half from the Central Americans.

“In the first half, we came out a little bit tight,” Roca said. “We are a little bit inexperienced. We had very little time to work together. At the same time, we managed to come out stronger in the second half. I am pleased with the organization the team showed.”

El Salvador are using this game and their upcoming "Road to Brazil" match against Spain on Saturday (4 pm ET, beIN Sports, Univision) to prepare for the Copa Centroamericano, which begins in September of this year. The Central Americans did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup, progressing well until they were grouped with eventual qualifiers Mexico and Costa Rica in the third round.