At Home in D.C., El Salvador Advances in World Cup Draw

El Salvador
Former D.C. United forward Ronald Cerritos, left, runs towards fans after scoring El Salvador's first goal in the eighth minute (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 27, 2008

The site was RFK Stadium, but it might as well have been Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.

Amid a sea of blue-and-white flags and roaring supporters who filled the lower bowl and a portion of the upper deck, El Salvador's national soccer team breezed into the second round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region for the 2010 World Cup last night with a 4-0 victory over Anguilla.

Anguilla, a tiny Caribbean island nation that had lost the first leg of the two-game, total-goals series by 12 goals, was technically the home team but forced to play at a neutral site because it could not offer an adequate field. A Brazilian company bought the marketing rights and decided to stage the match in a city with a large Salvadoran-born community.

Last night's turnout of 22,670 easily surpassed the attendance figure for the first meeting between the teams in January in San Salvador (15,000) and dwarfed the population of Anguilla (13,600).

Anguilla's national sport is sailing. El Salvador's is soccer and, although the quality of its play has suffered in recent years, there was never a doubt it would advance to face favored Panama in another two-game series in June.

Ronald Cerritos, a former D.C. United forward now playing for third-division expansion team Real Maryland, started the latest onslaught in the eighth minute after receiving William Torres's cross in the penalty area. Rudis Corrales, who had five goals in a 37-minute span of the first match, scored on a short header in the 15th. Carlos Monteagudo skipped a one-timed shot inside the near post eight minutes later and Torres curled a free kick from near the corner over flailing goalkeeper Godwin Davy.

Besides tapping its semipro domestic league, Anguilla drew players from England who have family ties to the island. Three starters were from Slough Town, which plays in the eighth tier of the English system, and two others from sixth-level clubs. The reserves included Kieran Kentish, a sophomore at John Brown University in Arkansas.

Anguilla, tied for the No. 199 ranking out of 207 teams in the world, did not concede a goal after halftime, a noble achievement that triggered high-fives, hugs and dancing at the final whistle.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company