Guatemala defeats El Salvador, 2-0, at RFK Stadium

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 2010; 12:19 AM

For the El Salvador national soccer team, RFK Stadium and the Washington area have become a home away from home, a venue where the team has been welcomed by the large Salvadoran community to enjoy a hearty home field advantage.

On Tuesday night against regional rival Guatemala, however, the crowd of 12,246 was nearly equally split between the two. On the field, Guatemala was the stronger team en route to a 2-0 victory.

"I remember the other times we came to play here, it was more dominated by the Salvadoran fans," Guatemala midfielder Fredy Thompson said in his native Spanish. "I think tonight it was almost like it was even, there might have been a minimal difference. And for us that helped us be motivated to play well in front of our fans."

Thompson opened the scoring for the Chapines in the 45th minute. The Salvadoran defense had been shaky throughout the first half, giving away possession in the midfield to open up counterattacks for Guatemala and failing to close space quickly.

After El Salvador failed to clear the ball, Thompson battled through a weak tackle to set himself alone on top of the 18-yard box, where he finished past the onrushing goalkeeper with a left-footed shot.

Guatemala doubled the lead in the 81st minute on a goal from forward Transito Montepeque, who received a ball from Marvin Ceballos near the top corner on the left side of the box, took a touch and finished to the far post, setting off another huge celebration from the Guatemalan fans.

Guatemala enjoyed much of the positive possession in the first 45 minutes as a result of El Salvador's giveaways and threatened several times.

Forward Mario Castellanos hit a shot in the 22nd minute just wide of the near post after a ball was not cleared, and one minute later he got open for a volley that was blocked by a defender.

Chicago Fire all-star midfielder Marco Pappa should have made it 1-0 when he made a run right through the Salvadoran defense, touching the ball past one defender and chipping another to set himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Benji Villalobos. The Salvadoran netminder left his feet prematurely and Pappa slid the ball easily by him, but it caromed off the near post and out.

El Salvador was much improved in the second half, pushing the tempo more as Guatemala shifted from a 3-5-2 formation in which Pappa ran the show into a more defensive 4-5-1.

The more aggressive approach resulted in some good looks on net, but El Salvador couldn't finish - Ramon Sanchez missed an open header wide of the net in the 66th minute and Rudis Corrales put a shot into the side netting from close range in the 89th.

"As coaches we have to tactically see how we are going to better position ourselves to have better opportunities to go forward on the opposing goal," Guatemala Coach Ever Ivan Almeida said of the changes through a translator. "And based on the substitutions from the El Salvador coach, I thought that was the best way to play moving forward."

The Chapines' win improved their record in the all-time series to 29-14-20.

Notes: The El Salvador roster for the friendly included former D.C. United midfielders Christian Castillo and Eliseo Quintanilla, both of whom were in the starting lineup.

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