BATLIMORE, Maryland -- When El Salvador steps onto the field at a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium for its CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against the United States on Sunday, the Cuscatlecos might feel very much at home.
That's because the doubleheader will have distinct a Central American feel and flavor to it as three of the four teams come from that region of CONCACAF. Costa Rica and Honduras will tussle in the nightcap.
A sizable population of Salvadorans resides in the Washington, D.C. area – approximately 40 miles south of this city -- and many are expected to attend the game to cheer their heroes on. The team delegation is welcoming the support.
"It helps us play harder," El Salvador head coach Agustin Castillo said after training at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday. "It's a pressure, but it's a favorable pressure. I know how to manage that. It helps more than it hurts."
Defender Victor Turcios said he was looking forward to the backing from the stands in what is a foreign land for him and his teammates.
"There's going to be a large number of Salvadorans," he said. "We know there's going to be a lot of fans from both sides. But we believe our fans are going to motivate us to get the positive result we are looking for."
Castillo, whose team was one of two third-place wildcard teams after finishing with a 1-1-1 record, is ready to take on the undefeated U.S. (3-0-0).
"The confidence has grown throughout the tournament," he said. "The other games have been really good technical football. Fundamentally, we are a very young team with a lot of ambition."
The Salvadorans started their Group B competition with a 2-2 draw with Trinidad & Tobago, before dropping a 1-1 decision to group champion Honduras and rebounding with a 1-0 win over Haiti to clinch a wild-card spot.
"In the first two games we didn't get the results we wanted, but in the third game we got the win," Turcios said. "It gave us a pass, a pass to get to the quarterfinals. That meditated us a lot and we're going to work hard to get that result for Sunday's game."
Another factor the Salvadoran felt will be in their corner will be the heat expected that day. Weather forecasts have temperatures in the 90s.
"It's going to affect the entire game," Castillo said. "It's going to make it un-dynamic sometimes. But in El Salvador we're used to this heat. But it does take away some of the rhythm of the game. I would have liked to have played later in the day."
Castillo added that the conditions would affect tactics "because a player will get obviously run down quicker. When players get worn down in the sun, it not only affects technical, but their physical."
The Salvadorans on Friday trained in temperatures that soared as high as 99 degrees.
"It's going to help us, it's going to benefit us because we're used to this heat," Turcios said. "Today this is our weather in El Salvador. So at the end of the day we're going to be the benefactors of this climate."