El Savador suffers key injury in CONCACAF Gold Cup, earns 0-0 draw with Canada

July 9, 2015

Carson, Calif. – The El Salvador Men’s National Team tied the Canadian MNT, 0-0, in the second matchup of a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader Wednesday at the StubHub Center before a mostly pro-Salvadoran crowd of 22,648.

Things started off poorly in the opening minutes for El Salvador when star striker Nelson Bonilla suffered a serious injury, forcing him out of the game. However, his substitute, Irving Herrera, a defender, would prove to be a suitable replacement later in the match.

Despite the loss of Bonilla, El Salvador rallied and displayed its offensive capabilities.  At minute 14, El Salvador had a quality shot at goal, but Canadian goalkeeper Kiriakos Stamatopoulos made a sensational save to keep things even.

This would prove to be the theme for much of the first half, as El Salvador pressed and threatened with constant penetration toward the inner penalty box area, but the stout Canadian defense kept finding ways to deflect the ball and prevent goals.

At minute 25 however, El Salvador attacked from the left side with a shot at goal. Midfielder Pablo Punyed passed the ball from the midfield to Herrera on a breakaway with only Canadian David Edgar to beat. Herrera’s left-footed blast easily went past Edgar, but was blocked brilliantly by a sliding Stamatopoulos, much to the chagrin of the roaring Salvadoran fans.

More goal-saving play by Stamatopoulos came in the 27th minute when a Canadian midfielder could not get the ball out of the left side near the 6-yard box. The ball hit Salvadoran midfielder William Maldonado on his side, and Herrera then beat Edgar to the loose ball. Herrera quickly turned around and shot at goal, but Stamatopoulos blocked the ball with a diving effort.

It was not until minute 28 when midfielder Samuel Piette provided Canada with its first serious offensive threat on a play within arms length of goal that was thwarted by the defensive excellence of the Salvadorans.

An even better chance for Canada occurred in the 35th minute, as forward Cyle Larin had a one-on-one opportunity against Salvadoran goalkeeper Derby Carrillo following a blocked pass.

With no other Salvadoran defenders in sight, Larin juked Carrillo and was left alone with only an unguarded Salvadoran net to beat.  However, Larin was not able to capitalize on a fairly easy shot, as he devastatingly missed high over the center post.

El Salvador countered at the end of the half with another near score in the 45th minute when midfielder Richard Menjivar, with moves reminiscent of Lionel Messi, took on three defenders on the right side, and well within the 6-yard box, softly passed the ball inside to a ready and able Herrera who was well positioned to take a shot.  Canada’s Edgar pushed the ball out with a sliding attempt, taking the ball out north of the penalty box area.

But the sequence was far from over, as the ball fell into Salvadoran hands again and was crossed from the left side into the 6-yard box. Stamatopoulos did not handle it effectively, as Herrera was present to fight the ball off well.

Stamatopoulos pushed the ball out only at a short distance, allowing it to fall yet again to El Salvador. This time it was midfielder Arturo Alvarez who caught the ball and attempted a shot at goal which again was poorly pushed out by Stamatopoulos.

The ball fell at the feet of Herrera who was at close range for a sure Salvadoran scoring opportunity. However, this time Stamatopoulos made a spectacular play, blocking Herrera’s shot at goal and ending the first half at 0-0.

In the second half, both teams held firm, as El Salvador kept pushing their offense, working the periphery, and looking for an opening toward the interior, while Canada’s defense remained on high alert, keeping the Salvadorans at a distance and forcing the ball out of bounds.

At about minute 76, referee Moncada allowed for two seemingly blatant fouls from each side, prompting a Salvadoran fan to shout, “at least you are keeping it fair.”

In the 81st minute, Canadian midfielder Marcel de Jong took a free kick from the left side, sending the ball to Marcus Haber for a header.  The ball was then bicycle-kicked by Ricketts far above the center post and out of play, ending the threat.

Canada had one last chance in the 90th minute from a header, but Salvadoran goalkeeper Carrillo made an incredible save to keep the score even until the final whistle.

The next 2015 Gold Cup matches for both teams are scheduled for Saturday July 11, 2015, when Canada faces Jamaica, and El Salvador takes on Costa Rica.

By Felix I. Hernandez
Contributing Writer for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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