Eriq Zavaleta -- Heading -- Squinting
USA Today

Toronto FC defender Eriq Zavaleta exploring option to play for El Salvador

Toronto FC center back Eriq Zavaleta is considering suiting up internationally for El Salvador.

Zavaleta is from Indiana, but his father, Carlos, represented El Salvador on the international level. The 24-year-old defender played for the US at several youth levels, but told The Canadian Press over the weekend that he’s been in touch with El Salvador head coach Eduardo Lara, who said he's interested in having Zavaleta join the team for a camp in March.

“It’s something I told him I’m willing to explore,” Zavaleta said. “I don’t currently have an El Salvadoran passport but that process has begun. ... They have made it clear there is a camp in March and that they want to bring me into that camp if the paperwork is done.”

Zavaleta appeared in just 15 regular-season games for TFC last year, but played every minute of the club’s six-game playoff run to the MLS Cup final. Before suiting up for El Salvador, he’d first have to receive his citizenship and then receive approval from FIFA for switching his national team allegiance.

El Salvador will participate in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, having qualified for the tournament by virtue of their third-place finish at last month’s Copa Centroamericana. Toronto FC will likely have a number of players participate in the tournament with the US, Canadian and Panamanian national teams. 

“This is something I’ve been thinking for a few years,” Zavaleta said. “They’ve actually been interested in me, contacted me for a good number of years now and have called me into camps over the past few couple of years. And it’s been almost a different coach every time.

“So it feels good to be noticed, that I can play at the international level.”