USMNT-El Salvador preview: Come together, right now

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
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The United States men’s national team is now reinforced with plenty of CONCACAF experience, and should find itself in the knockout rounds come 11 p.m. ET Wednesday.

That’s two hours after kick-off against El Salvador, and the plucky Cuscatlecos are back in the quarterfinals for the third time in four tournaments.

This is a match that will be more about Michael Bradley and his fellow U.S. call-ups gelling with the gents who led the Group B triumph over the past 10 days.

It also gives Clint Dempsey a good chance to draw level and perhaps pass Landon Donovan for most goals in USMNT history. Dempsey’s 56 are one shy of Donovan’s 57 (in 23 less matches).

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El Salvador got here by beating Curacao and drawing Jamaica after a 3-1 loss to Mexico, who was also carrying a B Team, so this is a significant step up in class for El Salvador.

The visitors bring four U.S. based players in San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Darwin Ceren, Reno 1868 midfielder Junior Burgos, and New York Cosmos pair Richard Menjivar and captain Andres Flores.

Especially dangerous on the counter, something Arena doesn’t quite expect on Wednesday, forwards Nelson Bonilla and Rodolfo Zelaya have 33 goals in 83 caps.

Experience won’t be a problem for the United States, who added 486 caps to the lineup with the additions of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley (Uncapped Jesse Gonzalez and 17-times capped Darlington Nagbe also joined the fray).

If Arena opts for the lineup suggested by our own Joe Prince-Wright, we’d expect a three or four goal win for the Yanks. If he continues to use Graham Zusi at right back, it could be a little closer as the Sporting KC man has left a lot of space for attackers in this year’s tournament (again, not his fault).

The sides last met in the 2013 Gold Cup, when the Yanks posted a 5-1 win behind a goal and three assists from Donovan (Mix Diskerud, Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, and Eddie Johnson also scored).

While that score line is unusually disparate, the Yanks have never lost to El Salvador. There’s almost zero chance that happens on Wednesday.