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A look back at the strange finish to USA-El Salvador
by Paul Kennedy, August 23rd, 2013 1:01AM

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TAGS:  men's national team


By Paul Kennedy

The Salvadoran federation (Fesfut) announced late Wednesday night it had provisionally suspended 22 players for 30 days as it probed match-fixing charges centering around four national team games.

They include a 2-1 loss to the USA in February 2010 that was strange in that La Selecta held off the USA for most of the game -- and even took the lead -- but gave the game away in stoppage time on a goal scored by Sacha Kljestan that followed some very dubious work by La Selecta defense.

USA-El Salvador:
SA Match Report
U.S. Soccer Video Highlights

USA-El Salvador was not part of the regular FIFA calendar, but U.S. Soccer scheduled the game against La Selecta in Tampa as part of its preparations for the 2010 World Cup -- Bob Bradley's last chance to look at MLS players on the fringe before he had to pick his 23-player squad for the World Cup in South Africa.

All but one player, Clarence Goodson, was playing for an MLS club at the time, and just three players, Jonathan Bornstein, Robbie Findley and Goodson, went on to make the World Cup squad.

If the fix was in on the part of one or more Salvadoran players, the USA sure made it hard as it struggled to put away its chances. The USA finished with an 18-3 edge in shots but trailed in the game when a giveaway by Brad Evans allowed Rudis Corrales to put El Salvador ahead in the 59th minute.

Goalie Miguel Montes made 11 saves, many of them of the spectacular variety to hold off the USA, until the 75th minute when Brian Ching equalized.

Ching's goal -- a close-range header off a Heath Pearce cross -- glanced off Montes' glove into the goal, but was nothing like Kljestan's goal that came after defender Marvin Gonzalez allowed Kljestan to steal Montes' questionable pass from the back, lay the ball off to Ching and break in on goal and score after getting a return pass.

This was the first paragraph of the game report by SA's Ridge Mahoney:

"What can you say about a game in which a goalkeeper makes several outstanding saves, but gifts the other team both of its goals?"

And this is how John Harkes, the color commentator on the ESPN broadcast, described the play:

"Montes looks like he just gives up ... He just stops in his tracks ... He's already falling down."

Both Montes and Gonzalez were among the 22 players who have been suspended. Three other starters -- including captain Ramon Sanchez, then with the San Jose Earthquakes -- along with one sub and three unused subs from the Tampa game were suspended. Neither Corrales nor the other Salvadoran forward, former U.S. U-20 Arturo Alvarez, was suspended.

Reports of the probe began to surface last month during the Gold Cup with El Salvador captain Victor Turcios telling ESPN Deportes that La Selecta was "implicated in match-fixing" without indicating the game or games.

Former Salvadoran national team coach, Mexican Juan de Dios Castillo, told ESPN's E:60 Deportes around the same time of his suspicions about match-fixing and the knowledge of Fesfut leaders about what was going on.

Castillo said the Fesfut told him not to pick Jose Mardoqueo Henriquez because of suspicions about his role in match-fixing. Henriquez, one of the unused subs in the U.S. game, was recalled for the 2013 Gold Cup.

The other games Fesfut president Carlos Mendez Cabezas said were being investigated were a friendly against D.C. United in July 2010 (1-0 D.C. United win), a 2011 Gold Cup match against Mexico (5-0 Mexico win) and 2012 friendly against Paraguay (4-1 Paraguay win).

Raids were conducted at the homes of 11 players on Thursday as Salvadoran attorney general conducts the investigation. Concacaf described the suspensions "as a provisional disciplinary measure in order to provide the best environment to conduct an in-depth investigation on alleged match manipulation incidents." The investigation will also examine El Salvador's three matches at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup in Turkey -- its first appearance ever at the FIFA tournament.

FIFA can move to make the suspensions of all the players apply worldwide. None of the players currently play in MLS, though four are former MLS players -- Christian Castillo, Eliseo Quintanilla, Osael Romero and Sanchez -- and another player, Dennis Alas, played in the USL Second Division (then a third level league). Rodolfo Zelaya, one of the stars of the 2013 Gold Cup, was targeted by MLS clubs before the summer transfer window closed two weeks ago.

El Salvador did not qualify for the Hexagonal, so it has no more competitive matches scheduled for the remainder of the year.

El Salvador 22:
Luis Alonso Anaya
Osael Romero
Ramon Sanchez
Christian Castillo
Eliseo Quintanilla
Jose Miguel Granadino
Miguel Montes
Dagoberto Portillo
Rodolfo Zelaya
Victor Turcios
Carlos Romeo Monteangudo
Dennis Alas
Jose Alfredo Pacheco
Marvin Gonzalez
Carlos Carrillo
Darwin Bonilla
Rodrigo Alejandro Martinez
Jose Mardoqueo Henriquez
Reynaldo Villeda
Ramon Flores
Benji Villalobos
Emerson Umana


5 comments
  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: August 23, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.
    Although no one will read both the article and my comment because simply no-one cares, this is all a bunch of BS!Where do you obtain such nonsense? The United States Soccer Federation "buying" a game? It's not that serious as of yet... and not in US Soccer culture...unless of course you want to create something for people to read!!! I have a personal "friend" within the ES squad and he just laughed...of course he did. If there was a suspension it was due to "performance" and nothing else! Now, if the United States want to "buy" a place in the "second round" in Brazil, that's another issue...but do they know how to go about it? Anyway, such nonsense! Please write responsibly!

  1. Angel Trujillo
    commented on: August 23, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
    @Peter, The money comes from international bettors, not the opposing teams. If they (the bettors) can guess the exact score of these games, they stand to win millions of dollar! If they invest a couple of hundred thousand in paying players, it is still a lucrative endeavor.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: August 23, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
    Hey Angel...you are so correct...! But let me tell you as I am not in the least ashamed to admit that "I play" meaning "bet" soccer (daily) and other sports and am aware on what is happening. The ES players had no part in any "betting scandal" or anything else...they simply got beat!!! Anyway...game coming up at 5:00..."who you taking?" Take care Angel!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: August 23, 2013 at 6:33 p.m.
    Hola Don Pedro Skouras: Really now, if I hadn't read the article and then your comments, and by the way, I actually read about this topic in another source last night, before I opened this SA issue. That players "had no part in any "betting scandal" or anything else...they simply got beat!!! (sic)", well pilgrim, maybe so, but just where and by whom was the investigation launched? In El Salvador by the Fesderacion del El Salvador de Fultbol (Festfut), so???....

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: August 23, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
    Professor: I too received this information from initiating from Soccer America...however, I was also told from some of my Latino friends that it was on Hispanic News Stations. I then contacted a friend, a close friend who is on the "ES" national team to clarify!!! Wanna know something??? BS...! That's it and that's all! Now, there is a game (actually many games coming up)and I must plan well! Professor, see you on Monday!


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