El Salvador trains for friendly, Gold Cup

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - As part of its preparations for a May 22 friendly at Venezuela and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, El Salvador completed three days of training on Wednesday.

Head coach Agustin Castillo worked with a group of 18 players that included those whose teams had finished their Salvadoran domestic league seasons, plus two foreign-based standouts -- Rodolfo Zelaya (Alania/Russa) and Mark Lester Blanco (Marathon/Honduras).

Seven players were invited to their first camp: Erick Molina, Christopher Ramirez and Edwin Benitez (all of Atletico Marte); Marcelo Posada and Kevin Santamaria (both of Santa Tecla FC), Joel Serrano (Universidad) and Christian Sanchez (Isidro Metapan).

They all appeared to acclimate themselves well and Benitez, for one, was excited for the opportunity.

"As a player, the dream is to be in the selection and now to work hard," said the 29-year-old defender. "When I saw the call-up list, I got goose bumps."

Even Blanco, a national team veteran, was pleased that new players were being introduced into the set-up.

"It's good to see new faces on the team and that makes you work harder to gain a position, because new call-ups want to show what they have and that creates healthy competition," said the 24-year-old, who has one career Gold Cup goal.

At the Gold Cup, El Salvador is in Group B and will face Trinidad & Tobago (July 8), Honduras (July 12) and Haiti (July 15).