News Live Scores

Goal.Commentary: Winners and Losers from U.S. vs. El Salvador

By Noah Davis 

Last night in San Salvador's Estadio Cuscatlan, El Salvador posted an impressive 2-2 tie with the United States Men's National Team in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. The home team went up two goals before a furious comeback by the Americans left the match knotted when the final whistle blew. It was a night that will long be remembered in the Central American country, as a raucous crowd of 30,000-plus pushed its beloved team beyond the expectations of almost everyone around the globe. Goal.com takes a look at who emerged as the winners and losers from the game.  

Winners

El Salvador

For 60 minutes, the Cuscatlecos dominated play. While the tie is disappointing, it's still a great result for the home side. (Plus, all things considered, if the match goes another 10 minutes, the Americans probably win.) El Salvador proved it could play with CONCACAF's best, especially at home. The team that many thought would finish sixth in the Hexagonal round showed the world last night it has a shot at securing a ticket to South Africa. 

Jozy Altidore

With the U.S. in need of a goal, Bob Bradley replaced left back Heath Pearce with the young striker in the 61st minute. The move didn't immediately pay dividends on the scoreboard, but the teen improved the American attack considerably throughout his half an hour on the pitch and eventually netted the team's first strike in the 77th minute. He was in position to double up 11 minutes later, but gave way to Frankie Hejduk who tallied from three yards out. Altidore continues to make an impact virtually every time he sees the pitch for the Red, White, and Blue.  

Jose Francisco Torres

Another second half sub, he replaced an ineffective Sacha Kljestan with 18 minutes remaining. While El Salvador scored just seconds after he appeared on the pitch, the midfielder can't be faulted for the breakdown. On a night when too many American players looked intimidated by the scene, the tiny Torres showed he's been hardened by his time at Pachuca and gamely stepped up and took on player after player. He distributed well and showed he deserves more minutes.  

JP Dellacamera and John Harkes

Their commentary still leaves a great deal to be desired, but in an age when too many games are called off of monitors (in soccer broadcasts and other sports), let's give ESPN credit for sending the pair down to Estadio Cuscatlan. They did an excellent job of conveying just how loud and excited the crowd was, something that wouldn't have happened from a booth in Bristol, CT. Plus, the image of them huddled near the top of the stadium right before the second half kickoff was priceless. 

Losers

Danny Califf

A late addition to the lineup after Oguchi Onyewu was scratched with a knee sprain, the central defender had a chance to solidify his spot as the U.S.'s go-to backup man in the middle. Instead, he and the rest of the American backline were a mess all night. This isn't entirely his fault -- Carlos Bocanegra and Brad Guzan needed to take more vocal control -- but a man who has worn the captain's armband for Bradley should have shown more leadership. 

Heath Pearce

Compared with Frankie Hejduk, who was all over the pitch the entire night, the Hansa Rostock left back was almost non-existent in his hour of play. He didn't manage to get forward as he has in previous matches -- admittedly this could have been by design -- and his marking left much to be desired. His passing suffered on the El Salvadorian pitch, although to be fair few of the U.S. players figured out the surface. The United States improved dramatically after Pearce came off and dropped DaMarcus Beasley into a left back role. 

Bob Bradley

The American coach has always been defended from his critics by the fact that he gets results. Well, this is a game that should have been won. The comeback provides a nice storyline, but it should never have needed to happen. The U.S. looked intimidated and unprepared from the opening kickoff, a fact that reflects quite poorly on the coaching staff. Quite simply, the Americans never focused on this match.  

Trinidad and Tobago

On Wednesday, T and T comes to Nashville, TN to play the Nats. One hopes the tie in El Salvador serves as a wake-up call to the American side that may have gotten a bit complacent. This can't be good for the Soca Warriors, who managed to secure a point at home against Honduras on Saturday night. During the third round of qualifying, the Caribbean nation was soundly beaten by the U.S. 3-0 in Chicago and you can expect a similar result this week. 

Noah Davis covers the United States National Team for Goal.com.