El Salvador impresses in loss to Argentina

Action from the international friendly between Argentina and El Salvador (white jersey) on March 28, 2015, in Landover, Maryland, USA. (Photo courtesy of FIFA via Getty Images)

LANDOVER, Maryland, USA -- After the latest valiant effort against one of football’s giants, El Salvador goalkeeper Derby Carrillo refused accept a moral victory. 

It’s that kind of attitude manager Albert Roca likely wants to see in his developing side, which eventually succumbed to second-half goals from Ever Banega and Federico Mancuello in a 2-0 defeat to Argentina on Saturday before a crowd of 53,968 at FedEx Field. 

“You’re playing against some of the best players in the world, leaving the game a little dissatisfied,” said Carrillo.  “It could’ve been 0-0.  Two goals out of luck, you could say, but knowing that we’ve got a lot ahead of us.” 

Since Roca’s hiring in May 2014, El Salvador has posted a 1W-0D-5L record in six games against 2014 FIFA World Cup participants, but has impressed in many of those outings, including narrow losses to Ivory Coast (2-1) and Spain (2-0), as well as 1-0 victory over Honduras in September’s Central American Cup. 

And with this latest result, Roca feels his young group, which averages roughly 25 years of age, is about to make a big leap as it approaches a World Cup Qualifying, second round series against St. Kitts & Nevis in June and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. 

“I think that what’s coming up in the Gold Cup, we have a lot of talent that is in the midst of actually exploding,” Roca said through a translator. 

Argentina forced Carrillo to make eight saves, but there were flashes of that growing confidence to which Roca referred. 

Nelson Bonilla, Darwin Ceren and Arturo Alvarez all threatened at times on the counter in the opening minutes of both halves.

It took a deflection off the outstretched leg of Nestor Renderos, however, for Banega to open the scoring in the 54th minute. 

“I think Argentina struggled to find those two goals,” Alvarez said.  “At the end of the day, they have quality star players up top that, one way or another, they’re going to make something happen, and they did.” 

Mancuello’s 88th-minute strike came off a free kick from the right side of the penalty area that curled around Carrillo’s dive and into the top right corner.

Although it was a tough way to end, Carrillo knows what will be on the line when El Salvador takes the field again on Wednesday in Los Angeles with a friendly against Guatemala.

“Once we play these Central American teams, it’s do or die,” Carrillo finished.  “You’re going to see going into pretty hard tackles.”