Internal competition driving El Salvador
El Salvador players (pictured) are shown during a training session on July 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – El Salvador has hit the home stretch of its preparations for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

With the 23-man roster settled, internal competition for places in the starting lineup is driving the Cuscatlecos forward.

“The decisions have not been made [by the head coach],” said midfielder Richard Menjivar.  “I think it is the job of everyone to show themselves and try to win their spot.  It is always a healthy competition.  We are going to try to focus, give great effort and be able to give our part to the team.” 

Goalkeeper Oscar Arroyo believes that the desire of all squad members to be on Qualcomm Stadium field for the July 9 opener against defending champion Mexico could be the key to a successful Gold Cup campaign.

“We are all fighting, the 23 of us that are here,” the 27-year-old remarked.  “We want to play all of the Gold Cup matches and that makes for a healthy battle.  An extra ingredient is having to push yourself to the maximum and that has been very good.”

The Salvadorans have scored only three goals in their last six Gold Cup games dating back to 2013.  Forward Rodolfo Zelaya, who has team-record eight goals in the competition, didn’t play in the 2015 edition.  He looks primed to lead forward line and is one goal away from equaling the legendary Jorge Gonzalez (20 goals) for second on El Salvador’s all-time scoring list.

Zelaya, 28, insists that he is more concerned about helping his team at the Gold Cup rather than personal records.

“As a forward, one works to do things well,” commented the Alianza star.  “Yes, it is true that I have a responsibility to score goals, but we’re going to see what happens.  Hopefully, I can finish the opportunities in the Gold Cup.”

Zelaya is looking to become the first Salvadoran to score in three different Gold Cups.