Seattle Sounders wingback Alex Roldan made his El Salvador debut in style on Sunday evening, getting his team on the scoreboard in the 81st minute en route to a 2-0 win over Guatemala at Toyota Stadium to take the lead in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup's Group A race.

Though El Salvador dominated first-half possession and attempted 11 shots to Guatemala's two, neither team found a breakthrough in the first 45 minutes. In fact, El Salvador took some speculative shots in an attempt to land Group A's first goal in style, including a Ronald Gómez effort from about 40 yards out and a Jairo Henríquez missile from about 35 yards out. Narciso Orellana was also part of the Salvadorian distance party, though both squads engineered some chances closer to goal as well.

El Salvador continued to apply pressure during the second half, including a 53rd-minute shot by Houston Dynamo FC midfielder Darwin Ceren, who saw his effort saved by Guatemalan goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen. In the 64th minute, Ceren gave way to another MLS player making his El Salvador debut: Roldan.

In the 76th minute, La Selecta had perhaps their best chance at goal, with Marvin Monterroza led into the box and going one-on-one with Hagen. But a shaky first touch left Guatemalan captain Jose Carlos Pinto just enough time to slide in and force Monterroza wide.

Five minutes later, Roldan got the ball at his feet just outside the box on a Salvadorian attack that met some Guatemalan resistance, finally beating Hagen with a crisp shot – a reflection of possession and shot dominance that El Salvador increased after halftime. However, Guatemala engineered a chance about halfway through second-half stoppage time from Darwin Lom that went tantalizingly close to equalizing.

Then as stoppage time neared its finish, Joaquin Rivas left no doubt for the Salvadorians with a late-arriving insurance goal.

Goals

  • 81' – SLV – Alex Roldan
  • 90'+6' – SLV – Joaquin Rivas

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Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: It took a while, but El Salvador secured the top spot in Group A and bumped up their goal differential right at the death. That puts La Selecta in great shape in a group that Mexico’s expected to dominate. For Guatemala, who thought they were out of Gold Cup contention after losing a 10-9 penalty shootout to Guadeloupe on Tuesday, this is perhaps a case of “just happy to be here." Their inclusion arose after Curacao was forced to withdraw due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Roldan’s goal stood as the game-winner and made his estimable potential in a royal blue jersey almost immediately felt.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Though only on for about a half-hour, Roldan was the difference-maker for a team that made plenty of noise around the goal but couldn’t finish for long stretches.

Next Up

  • SLV: Wednesday, July 14 vs. Trinidad & Tobago | 7:30 pm ET (FS1, TUDN) | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage
  • GUA: Wednesday, July 14 vs. Mexico | 9:30 pm ET (FS1, TUDN) | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage

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