A month after he guided El Salvador at the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico, U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer Hugo Perez
has been given the job of leading the senior national team.
Perez's first task will be to qualify El Salvador for the Octagonal, the final round of Concacaf World Cup 2022 qualifying, but the Salvadoran federation is also looking ahead to 2026 when El Salvador presumably should have a better shot at qualifying for the expanded World Cup.
Perez led El Salvador to a 1-1-1 record in Olympic qualifying. Its most impressive result was a 1-1 tie with Honduras, which qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after beating the USA, 2-1, in the semifinals. Perez replaces Mexican Carlos de los Cobos
, who had been in charge of La Selecta since 2018. The Salvadoran federation (FESFUT) reached an agreement with de los Cobos, allowing him to step down.
"There are things that I must attend to at the family level," he said at a press conference, "and in a friendly way we have reached this decision." World Cup 2022 qualifying.
If Concacaf had stuck with its original format, El Salvador, ranked sixth in Concacaf, would have joined the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica in the Hexagonal. Instead, El Salvador is one of 30 teams competing for three berths to join the other five teams in the Octagonal, which begins in September.
El Salvador opened qualifying with a 2-0 win over Grenada and 1-1 tie at tiny Montserrat. It must play the U.S. Virgin Islands and Antigua & Barbuda and two playoff games, if it wins its group, after that, all in June.
El Salvador was without six veterans, including former LAFC forward Rodolfo Zelaya
, after they failed to reach an agreement with the FESFUT on the terms of the bonuses for the first stage. Perez said the door was open for Zelaya to return to the team. U.S. connection.
For Olympic qualifying, Perez called up his nephew, Josh Perez
(Ibiza in Spanish third tier), and Eric Calvillo
(Sam Jose Earthquakes), who both played for the USA at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup. Toronto FC's Eriq Zavaleta
, who played for the USA at the 2009 U-17 World Cup, was recently recruited for the senior national team. Gerson Mayen
played for the USA at the 2009 Under-20 World Cup in Egypt but has represented El Salvador at the senior level since 2012.