July 14, 2021

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s opening World Cup qualifier could be played in an empty stadium after new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in El Salvador on Tuesday.

The Central American country, currently listed as a level 2 (moderate) risk destination for travelers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, put its new guidance against large crowds into effect for 90 days, lasting until mid-October. That would affect not only their opening game with the U.S. on Sept. 2, but another two CONCACAF games as well.

The city of San Salvador was slated to host games against the U.S., Honduras and Panama during that stretch. A date with Mexico is scheduled for Oct. 13, the earliest fans might be allowed to return.

Hugo Carrillo, president of El Salvador’s soccer federation, told reporters Tuesday that the match could be moved to the U.S. and that Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C. are being looked at as potential venues.

This circumstance will be an obstacle for El Salvador, which faced long World Cup qualifying odds to begin with. But if the match stays in place without home fans allowed inside, it makes the roadie a little less challenging for any opponent making the trip — the U.S. and Mexico included.

After El Salvador, the Americans host Canada on Sept. 5 and then travel to take on Honduras Sept. 8.

-Field Level Media