Quality foes help El Salvador prepare for Gold Cup

Heading into the 2015 edition, El Salvador's Richard Menjivar (pictured) has played in four career CONCACAF Gold Cup games. (Photo: Mexsport)

CARSON, California – Midfielder Richard Menjivar says El Salvador’s rigorous international schedule against high-quality opposition over the last year has helped to boost the squad’s preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Salvadorans lost to South American giants Argentina (2-1) and Chile (1-0) in March and June, respectively. Last year, they dropped a 2-0 decision to 2010 world champion Spain, and fell 2-1 to Ivory Coast in a game featuring the likes of international stars Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Kolo Toure.

Menjivar said matching skills with some of the biggest names in international football helped to improve the team.

“I think it is very important to play against players of that caliber,” Menjivar told CONCACAF.com. “They are top class players and once we see the level they’re at, we measure where we are and where we need to be at now, and it helps us to improve. We see things they do that make them great and we can use that to get better as well.

“When we see things that are working out, we get to try a few things and it gives us a confidence boost. When we defend well and you can defend against the likes of [Lionel} Messi and all those players, we can defend against anyone.”

El Salvador opens up its Gold Cup campaign against Group B rival Canada at the StubHub Center on Wednesday, before facing Costa Rica (July 11 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas) and Jamaica (July 14 at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada).

The 24-year-old Menjivar noted that El Salvador was expecting no easy games and was under no illusions about the size of the task facing the squad.

“We understand we have a tough group,” the Tampa Bay Rowdies standout expressed. “Every game is going to be a battle, but I think a lot of guys are believing in our system and our style of playing so hopefully we will start to get good results. I think we need to start off on a good foot and beat Canada.”

El Salvador arrived in Los Angeles on Monday and had its first training session in the evening, an outing Menjivar believed was vital to the team's final preparation.

“We’ve got in a first session in after the flight so we’re in a good mood and ready to take this cup on,” he finished. “The flight always kills a lot of players, lots of legs are heavy, so we’re just getting our legs back and tomorrow [Tuesday] we’re going to do some technical stuff."