The two-week June window that will include a major part of the U.S. national team’s preparation for the Qatar World Cup will include a return trip to El Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlán, the site of the raucous opener. American qualifiers last year.
Concacaf on Wednesday afternoon unveiled the schedule for the second edition of its Nations League, a three-tier tournament designed to provide additional competitive opportunities for smaller countries in the region. Everyone has to participate, however, and so defending champions USA will face League A, Group D foes El Salvador and Grenada in June. These Nations League games will follow two friendlies against unidentified opponents (Uruguay are said to be in the game).
The United States will then play two more friendlies in September – United States coach Gregg Berhalter said he is aiming for a trip to Europe – before the World Cup kicks off in November. The Nations League group stage will then resume in March 2023. The first of each of the four League A trios will contest the semi-finals and final of the tournament the following June.
Here is the United States Nations League schedule:
June 10: Grenada in the United States
June 14: United States in El Salvador
March 24: United States in Grenada
March 27: El Salvador in the United States
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The Nations League includes competitive stakes, as it also serves as a qualifier for the 2023 Gold Cup. The top two teams from each League A group automatically advance to the regional championship, leaving the third to negotiate play-offs against League countries. B and C (this third team will also be relegated to League B for the next Nations League).
El Salvador, who are coached by former United States international Hugo Pérez, are ranked 74th in the world and finished seventh in the recently ended Concacaf octagon with a 2-8-4 record. But La Selecta left an impression on the United, who were unable to break down the frantic and tough hosts in the Salvadoran capital last September. Cuscatlán is the largest stadium in Central America and has more than 50,000 seats.
“The only atmosphere that surpassed anything I’ve ever seen before from them was El Salvador,” Berhalter said. Sports Illustrated last month. “I’ve never seen this of El Salvador as a country in all my years playing there.”
Grenada, ranked 170th, were eliminated in the first round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying competition with a 1-3-0 record that included a 2-0 defeat at El Salvador. The Spice Boys have lost the previous three games against the United States and feature several USL Championship players.
“El Salvador showed in the World Cup qualifiers that they are a formidable opponent, and Grenada proved that they are a rising team after winning their group in the last game. [Nations League] tournament and to be promoted to League A,” Berhalter said in a statement after Monday’s draw. “This format provides a valuable opportunity to gain away experience in our region, and we look forward to the chance to defend our Concacaf Nations League title.”
US Soccer has not announced a venue for Granada’s game in June or any of the two friendlies that are expected to precede it. The friendlies will take place on June 1 and 5, according to The Washington Post.
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