BOULDER, Colorado – The last time El Salvador (0W-0D-1L, 0 points) faced Curacao (0-0-1, 0) in an official competition, it eliminated the Caribbean side from CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Now, the Cuscatlecos could end Curacao’s chances of advancing in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
El Salvador beat the Curacaoans twice in WCQ play by the same 1-0 scoreline. On both occasions, Curacao missed key players with one at the birth of his child and others nursing injuries.
A Salvadoran win Thursday night would put Curacao on the edge of elimination, while boosting the Cuscatlecos’ hopes of advancement.
Head coach Eduardo Lara is not looking that far ahead.
“We can’t think about anything else,” said 57-year-old Colombian, who team fell 3-1 to Mexico in its Gold Cup opener Sunday. “We have to focus on qualifying come Thursday night.”
The match will be played at Sports Authority Field, which is situated 5,280 feet above sea level. Lara is unconcerned about any potential ill effects of playing at that elevation.
“We are not worried about the altitude. It’s not a factor,” he remarked. “We are used to higher altitudes. I don’t want to mention it to the group because it can get in their heads. But both teams will feel it if there is a factor.”
Lara did not spend much time addressing El Salvador’s current goalkeeping situation. Starter Benji Villalobos was subbed out in the second half of the loss to Mexico with a knee injury. Derby Carrillo came on to finish the game. Villalobos practiced separately from the group Tuesday, doing rehab work with the team trainer.
“Derby is evolving. Darwin is a small discomfort,” Lara finished. “I decided to take him out because it’s important to me for him to be healthy.”