Mexico vs. El Salvador
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Group C, Matchday 1
Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, California
Sunday, July 8 – 9:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1 and Univision in USA; TSN1/4 in Canada
The busiest national team program in CONCACAF this summer, Mexico, kick off their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup slate with a showdown against Central American side El Salvador on Sunday in Southern California. El Tri will be bringing an experimental side, having played their first team in June's 2018 World Cup qualifiers and in the recent FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, where they finished fourth.
Even with a side built almost completely of domestic-based players, most of whom have fewer than 10 career caps, Mexico will be big favorites over La Selecta, who are still working to rebuild after a 2013 match-fixing scandal that led to more than a dozen lifetime bans for national team players. Still, El Salvador are bringing a fairly experienced squad, and springing an upset over Mexico -- even at less than full strength -- would be a legendary result.
Mexico enter the Gold Cup as defending champion. But with the Confederations Cup taking priority for Juan Carlos Osorio this summer, this roster will be in a similar position to the US national team's: Calling up new players, youngsters and fringe players to see if any could make the jump to future competitive rosters.
Even with the fixture congestion, this squad has played two tune-up friendlies ahead of the Gold Cup, a 1-0 win over Ghana on Jun. 28 in Houston and a 2-1 win over Paraguay in Seattle on Jul. 1. Given the competition for places in El Tri's squad and the youth of many of the call-ups for this tournament, don't confuse Mexico's youth for not taking the Gold Cup seriously.
One player injured in the friendly in Seattle, forward Alan Pulido, has been forced to pull out of the Gold Cup. As a result, Houston Dynamo striker Erick "Cubo" Torres has been called in as Pulido's replacement. It's tough to predict the lineup for Sunday, but given that Torres is joining the squad late, he'll likely be a bench option.
MEXICO 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul / MEX), Miguel Angel Fraga (Atlas / MEX), Moises Munoz (Puebla / MEX)
Defenders (9): Hugo Ayala (Tigres UANL / MEX), Raul Lopez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Hedgardo Marin (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Alejandro Mayorga (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Jesus Molina (CF Monterrey / MEX), Cesar Montes (CF Monterrey / MEX), Jair Pereira (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Luis Reyes (Club Atlas / MEX), Luis Rodriguez (Tigres UANL / MEX)
Midfielders (5): Edson Alvarez (Club America / MEX), Jesus Dueñas (Tigres UANL / MEX), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas UNAM / MEX), Jorge Hernandez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Rodolfo Pizarro (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX)
Forwards (6): Martin Barragan (Club Necaxa / MEX), Erick Gutierrez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Elias Hernandez (Club Leon / MEX), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Erick "Cubo" Torres (Houston Dynamo / USA), Angel Sepulveda (Monarcas Morelia / MEX)
Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio (Colombia)
El Salvador come into the Gold Cup looking to return to the knockout stage for the first time since 2013, and will likely be competing with Jamaica for second place in Group C. Any kind of result against Mexico is a tall order, but if they can manage it they'll go a long way to clinching that berth to advance.
The last competitive games El Salvador played were at the Copa Centroamericana in January. They finished third in Panama behind champion Honduras and the hosts, and matched their best ever showing in the regional tournament. More recently, they've played two friendlies in the United States, a 2-2 draw against Honduras in Washington in May and a 3-0 loss to Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in June.
La Selecta's head coach is Eduardo Lara, who joined El Salvador's youth national team program in 2015 before taking the reins of the senior team last year. Prior to coming to Central America, Lara's experience was on the club and national team levels in his native Colombia, including a stint as interim manager of the Colombian national team during 2010 World Cup qualification.
EL SALVADOR 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Oscar Arroyo (Alianza FC / SLV), Derby Carrillo (Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja / ISL), Benji Villalobos (CD Aguila / SLV)
Defenders (6): Alexander Larin (Alianza FC / SLV), Ivan Mancia (Alianza FC / SLV), Ruben Marroquin (Alianza FC / SLV), Milton Molina (AD Isidro Metapan / SLV), Henry Romero (Alianza FC / SLV), Bryan Tamacas (Santa Tecla FC / SLV)
Midfielders (10): Efrain Burgos (Reno 1868 FC / USA), Darwin Ceren (San Jose Earthquakes / USA), Oscar Ceren (Alianza FC / SLV), Roberto Dominguez (Santa Tecla FC / SLV), Andres Flores (New York Cosmos / USA), Victor Garcia (CD Aguila / SLV), Gerson Mayen (Santa Tecla FC / SLV), Richard Menjivar (New York Cosmos / USA), Narciso Orellana (Alianza FC / SLV), Denis Pineda (CD Santa Clara / POR)
Forwards (4): Harold Alas (Santa Tecla FC / SLV), Nelson Bonilla (CD Nacional / POR), Irvin Herrera (New York Cosmos / USA), Rodolfo Zelaya (Alianza FC / SLV)
Manager: Eduardo Lara (Colombia)