USMNT vs. El Salvador score: Ricardo Pepi goal pushes USA to victory and Concacaf League cup semifinal

It was a slow start on Monday in Orlando, but a second-half goal from Ricardo Pepi was enough to push the United States to a 1-0 victory over El Salvador. The team struggled to work their way through El Salvador's defense in the first half, but when Pepi came on the pitch, it only took two minutes for him to make a difference. Scoring three goals in these two Concacaf Nations League matches, Pepi has shown his improvement since missing the World Cup and this goal took a good run and chip at the end. 

At the other end, the El Salvador attack couldn't get past Miles Robinson in defense. The Atlanta United defender made his first appearance since tearing his Achilles tendon last May, and he showed what the team has been missing in his absence, making strong challenges all night to keep El Salvador at bay.

This window has been a big one for players who missed the World Cup. Pepi now has 13 goals and three assists for club and country since moving to Groningen in the Netherlands. With his confidence back, Pepi is showing why he shouldn't be left off of another big tournament roster in the future. 

Robinson is also back to top form and will be out of contract from Atlanta United at the end of the season. Able to sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs abroad in the summer, Robinson will soon test himself at a higher level, something that he deserves following his strong performances with the national team. Robinson is making sure that he will lock down a spot in the lineup despite the missed time due to injury.

"We're really really pleased. Pleased he's back. Pleased with his performance," Anthony Hudson said about Robinson's performance after the match. "At times, we saw the old Miles where he's so dominant in 1-vs.-1 situations and he reads plays well, steps in at the right time and he quietly goes about being dominant."

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While this wasn't an emphatic win over El Salvador like the 7-1 victory over Grenada, the United States also didn't allow El Salvador much joy on the ball either. At worst, it was a match that may have ended in a draw if Pepi's goal didn't go in, but the team only allowed four shots, none of which were on target, showing that they were dominant in a different way.

El Salvador head coach and former U.S. international Hugo Perez said that his side ran out of gas at the end of the match and that's where the USMNT's depth makes a difference in Concacaf matches. Being able to introduce Pepi, Luca De La Torre, Taylor Booth, and Johnny Cardoso from the bench is quite a show of quality even with Tyler Adams and Tim Weah missing these matches. It's something that El Salvador couldn't match as the team got the win in Orlando but as they get deeper in the competition and play in the Copa America, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

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On to the Nations League semifinal 

Games against El Salvador are always close but Ricardo Pepi did just enough to put the United States ahead to secure the win. Finishing the group stage undefeated, the USMNT defense was strong not allowing a single shot on target while dominating possession. They'll want to be clinical moving forward but any win is a good result.

March 28, 2023, 1:38 AM

Pulisic can't keep his shot down

The chance at an insurance goal are just evading the team as McKennie is the latest player to receive medical treatment and there will be no precautions as Johnny Cardoso will replace him.

March 28, 2023, 1:32 AM

Pepi was so close to a second

After a great first touch, Pepi forced the keeper into a save as the United States wants another goal.

March 28, 2023, 1:25 AM

Allowing too much space

Miles Robinson has had a lot to do in defense as the midfield are allowing El Salvador chances in transition. The United States could use an insurance goal right about now.

March 28, 2023, 1:16 AM

More changes are coming

It's time for fresh legs to help push the pace more as Taylor Booth and Luca De La Torre are getting ready to enter for the final 20 minutes. 

March 28, 2023, 1:10 AM

One touch? One goal!

Ricardo Pepi just stepped on the pitch and he has already hit the back of the net with a strong run and chip to beat the keeper. It's 1-0 United States now.

March 28, 2023, 1:03 AM

A change atop the lineup

Daryl Dike didn't touch the ball much to make an impact but he'll be replaced by Ricardo Pepi. Brenden Aaronson will also enter for Alejandro Zendejas with 30 minutes to go. The move will provide Gio Reyna with more freedom as Aaronson can play centrally or wide.

March 28, 2023, 1:01 AM

A goal has to come soon right?

Amazing goal line clearances, the post, last-ditch tackles, and everything in between are keeping the United States from scoring. Hudson is encouraging his team but changes may be needed sooner than later.

March 28, 2023, 12:54 AM

Off the post!

Right out of halftime, Reyna went for the solo strike and was only denied by the post. Things look a little faster in the first few minutes.

March 28, 2023, 12:46 AM

What needs to change in the second half?

Advancement, advancement, advancement. The attackers are all coming too deep to get the ball because the midfield isn't getting it to them before El Salvador collapses on them. While the defense has mostly done their job, neither fullback is supporting the wingers well and there has been a lack of space to go around.

March 28, 2023, 12:37 AM

How did that not go in!

McKennie gets on the end of a free kick and can't push his header on target in what could've put the team ahead right before halftime in the 49th minute of play.

March 28, 2023, 12:27 AM

Can the United States get a goal before the half?

38 minutes in, it feels like we've seen more players called offside than those who have had shots on goal. It has been a struggle to get through El Salvador but the United States' defense has also done a solid job in the early going.

March 28, 2023, 12:17 AM

So close to an opener

Pulisic was bearing down and Reyna also forced Martine into a good save. The free kick that followed was tame as the United States are struggling to break down El Salvador.

March 28, 2023, 12:09 AM

Another knock

Luca De La Torre if warming up in case he's needed as Yunus Musah receives treatment but will continue in the match.

March 27, 2023, 11:59 PM

Dest goes down in the box

No penalty was given and with no VAR in the match, it won't be reviewed. El Salvador are maintaining their shape well but the United States are adding pressure by the minute. 

March 27, 2023, 11:54 PM

Can't make the free kick count

But promising attacks to start the game for the USMNT. They haven't found an opening goal yet but it doesn't seem like it will take too much longer to find the back of the net.

March 27, 2023, 11:51 PM

Turner is receiving treatment

Worry only seven minutes into the match after fully extending to make a save. Turner will continue in the match but it will be something to watch as things wear on.

March 27, 2023, 11:45 PM

United States 1, El Salvador 0 (2H)

March 27, 2023, 11:40 PM

A fast start but flagged for offside

The United States are starting just how they did against Grenada but Gio Reyna was offside. El Salvador has a corner kick only two minutes into the match as neither of these teams are afraid to go at each other early.

March 27, 2023, 11:40 PM

Almost time for kickoff

Will this be another close match versus El Salvador or will the freedom that Hudson gives the team shine?

March 27, 2023, 11:26 PM

Back to the land of their debuts

Matt Turner and Daryl Dike both debuted for the USMNT in Orlando in a 7-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago. If the United States can do that again, it would be quite the international break after already scoring seven goals against Grenada.

March 27, 2023, 11:10 PM

El Salvador storylines

Playing one friendly during this window, El Salvador will need to rebound after losing 1-0 to Honduras. A team built on their defense, El Salvador have only allowed more than one goal twice in their last five matches but the United States will be the toughest attack that they've faced in the stretch. While the last meeting between the two teams featured two red cards, if the USMNT can keep all of their players on the pitch, it'll be a tough time for El Salvador.  

March 27, 2023, 11:00 PM

USMNT storylines

Hudson noted that there will be changes going into the match with two of those likely being Yunus Musah and Daryl Dike coming into the side. For Dike, he is a former Orlando City player so this game will be a bit of a homecoming for him. After Ricardo Pepi scored a brace in the Grenada match, Dike will have a high bar to clear but with the support that the team has behind him, scoring a hat trick is certainly possible.

The team has impressive depth at their disposal which is why Musah was able to rest the first match, ensuring that they're fresh for an important match like this one. A team that isn't afraid to mix up their tactics, El Salvador will give the United States a bit of trouble but the talent that the team has will be enough to make it through the match.

With Pulisic driving the attack, it's hard to envision a scenario where the USMNT don't score, so it'll be down to the defense to keep things steady. They faltered, allowing Grenada to score one goal, but it didn't end up mattering in the end. Allowing El Salvador to have similar attacking chances could spell trouble.   

March 27, 2023, 10:45 PM

El Salvador XI

SLV: 1-Mario Gonzalez (capt.),  3-Roberto Dominguez, 4-Eriq Zavaleta, 6-Narciso Orellana, 8-Brayan Landaverde, 9-Brayan Gil, 10-Enrico Dueñas, 15-Alexander Roldan, 17-Jairo Henriquez, 19-Kevin Reyes, 21-Bryan Tamacas

Available Subs: 18-Tomas Romero, 2-Rudy Clavel, 5-Nelson Blanco, 7-Mayer Gil, 11-Cristian Gil, 12-William Canales, 13-Leonardo Menjivar, 14-Christian Martinez, 16-Juan Argueta, 20-Jose Villalobos, 23-Melvin Cartagena

March 27, 2023, 10:33 PM


If the team were playing in Copa America right now, the Tim Ream and Miles Robinson partnership would likely be the pairing for the match so it will be interesting to see them together along with no recognized defensive midfielder in the lineup.

USA: 1-Matt Turner, 2-Sergiño Dest, 4-Miles Robinson, 5-Antonee Robinson, 6-Yunus Musah, 7-Gio Reyna, 8-Weston McKennie, 10-Christian Pulisic (capt.), 13-Tim Ream, 17-Alex Zendejas, 23-Daryl Dike

Available Subs: 12-Ethan Horvath, 18-Zack Steffen, 3-Mark McKenzie, 9-Ricardo Pepi, 11-Brenden Aaronson, 14-Luca de la Torre, 15-Johnny Cardoso, 16-Alan Soñora, 19-Joe Scally, 20-Auston Trusty, 21-Djordje Mihailovic, 22-Taylor Booth

March 27, 2023, 10:31 PM

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Monday, Mar. 27 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Exploria Stadium -- Orlando, Florida
  • TV: TNT  | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
  • Odds: United States -700; Draw +245; El Salvador +1700 (via Caesars Sportsbook) 
March 27, 2023, 10:28 PM

Hello and welcome

The final match of Concacaf Nations League group stage play will see the United States host El Salvador in Orlando. After a 7-1 victory over Grenada, Anthony Hudson has rotated seven spots in the XI but it will help keep the team fresh against an El Salvador side that will be ready to play. Follow along for what should be a fun match.

March 27, 2023, 10:28 PM