El Salvador U20s use time off to fine tune game

El Salvador (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to its CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match against Trinidad & Tobago on February 25, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Despite falling to Trinidad & Tobago on the last day of group play, a pair of wins in its first two games at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship were enough to earn El Salvador first place in Group C.

It was rewarded for those efforts with advancement to a classification-round group that includes two of the strongest teams in CONCACAF.

In the United States and three-time defending champion Mexico, the Cuscatlecos know they face stiff competition as the trio battles to secure a place in the 2017 FIFA U-20 Wold Cup and a spot in Sunday’s CONCACAF final.

“They’re two strong teams,” said El Salvador midfielder Fernando Castillo, after Saturday’s 2-1 setback to T&T. “We need to correct our mistakes in the three days we have between games because we don’t want to repeat these mistakes during the next matches. Those teams do not forgive you.”

El Salvador will be facing a Mexican side on Wednesday that will be fighting for its World Cup life after dropping a 1-0 decision to the Americans as the CU20’s second phase kicked off on Monday.

It was the first time Mexico lost in the competition since 2009, a string of 20 games. The Salvadorans, meanwhile, will be hoping to gain some prestige as the team that eliminated Mexico, while also claim a second-ever U-20 World Cup berth.

“We have a great attitude and know about our conditions and how we’re feeling,” El Salvador defender Ronald Gomez commented. “It’s eleven against eleven and we want to demonstrate our strengths in the next game.

“They are strong teams, but not impossible to beat. That’s why we got to work and do it the best way we can." 

El Salvador qualified for its only U-20 World Cup in 2013 by finishing third in that year’s CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.