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A Team in El Salvador Playing in the CONCACAF Champions League

A team in El Salvador playing in the CONCACAF Champions League is something of a rarity, and it does not help that they are up against a big team: the Philadelphia Union. With the Union being MLS Cup runner-up, they qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League and set up to face Allianza in the first round. This means that the Union would have to travel to El Salvador for the first leg.

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, primarily known for its beaches and surfing competitions. Their national team play for CONCACAF, where they qualified for the final eight of World Cup qualifiers. However, they came in seventh place and failed to qualify for Qatar. El Salvador have qualified for just two World Cups in its history, but have not been back since 1982.

They lost every match they have participated in, including breaking a record for the biggest loss in World Cup history with a 10-1 loss to Hungary during the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The small nation has grown its national team over the years, most famously having two national team players play for MLS clubs: Alex Roldan of the Seattle Sounders and Eriq Zavaleta of L.A Galaxy.

Soccer is very popular in El Salvador. However, because of its size and low funding, it’s hard to develop a team to compete with its neighboring countries. Their professional soccer league is the Primera Division de Futbol de El Salvador. It consists of 12 teams that play in two split seasons. The first half of the season is the Apertura and the second half is the Clausura. The team that holds the most titles is Fas, located in Santa Ana. They currently hold 19 titles.

The current winners are Alianza, based in the capital of San Salvador. They have the second most titles with 17 and share a big rivalry with Fas. Because Alianza won the Clausura in 2022, they automatically qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League. The club won only one Champions League Cup, back in 1967. The club faces the challenge of trying to beat Philadelphia if they want to make it to the next round.

Philadelphia were the favorites to win Tuesday, however it’s never easy for an opposing country to play in El Salvador. Alianza play in Estadio Cuscatlan, a stadium known for its poor playing conditions. In June, the USMNT played against El Salvador in a wet, muddy field at the stadium.

They struggled to get used to the poor playing conditions, to the point that the team trailed for 55 minutes until Jordon Morris scored the game-tying goal to save the team. The Union did not have an easy time on Tuesday, again struggling to get used to the playing conditions, and a dog for a pitch invader.

This led Alianza to dominate most of the match, maintaining 55% of the possession with six shots (one on target). Philadelphia had its starters on the bench, but were forced to come on to help try to find a goal. This was a wake-up call for the team, knowing that they are up against a competitive team. The result may be different for the second leg in Philadelphia, with the Union returning to familiar grounds, however that will not stop the small team to put up another fight against one the best teams in the MLS.

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