DENVER, Colorado – El Salvador forward Nelson Bonilla felt he could have done more. The 26-year-old left San Diego disappointed not to find the net a few more times after scoring his team’s only goal in its 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup opening 3-1 loss to Mexico.
He wants to make the most out of his next opportunity, which comes Thursday when the Cuscatlecos meet familiar-foe Curacao at Sports Authority Field. The sides have squared off three times over the last two years, with El Salvador winning twice in World Cup Qualifying by the same 1-0 score, while a friendly this past March ended in a 1-1 draw.
“It’s going to be a difficult game because I think both teams have the same need to get three points,” Bonilla, who scored a team-best five goals during qualifying for Russia 2018, said during a press conference Wednesday. “We both aspire to reach the next round. We have looked at and analyzed what Curacao can bring and what it wants for its national team.
“We are going to compete like we did against Mexico and play a good game. If it’s a nice afternoon for us when we go out there, I think it’s going to be a nice game.”
El Salvador head coach Eduardo Lara echoed those sentiments, adding that precision will be key to a possible Group C victory.
“We are hoping to get players to score like Nelson (Bonilla) who had some good moments and good finishing,” the 57-year-old Colombian remarked. “We hope that our strikers are accurate and that we can take advantage of our chances.”
The Salvadorans have scored one goal or fewer in seven straight Gold Cup games.