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US overpowers El Salvador in soccer friendly

Los Angeles (AFP) – Chris Mueller made the most of his international debut and veteran Paul Arriola scored in his first start since suffering a torn Achilles tendon as the US routed El Salvador 6-0 in an international friendly on Wednesday.

Mueller scored twice and Ayo Akinola, also in his first game, got a goal as the Americans closed out the pandemic-disrupted 2020 campaign with an impressive performance at Inter Miami Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arriola was playing his first game with the national team since tearing his right Achilles in an MLS preseason game in February. Brenden Aaronson got his first goal and goalkeeper Bill Hamid got the shutout in his first international start since 2018.

The US team decided to have fans into the stadium for the first time since the global pandemic struck, allowing 2,500 people into the building. The US has been the hardest hit country by the deadly virus with more than 3,000 deaths nationwide on Wednesday alone.

Because of the pandemic the US played just four times this year, their fewest games since playing three in 1987.

The United States is trying to rebuild its standing as one of the top teams in the Americas after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Americans did the unthinkable, losing to Trinidad and Tobago and failing to reach the World Cup for the first time in over 30 years.

El Salvador, which has a population of about six million, has been to the World Cup just twice in their history in 1970 and 1982.

The US got on the board in the 17th minute when Arriola took a pass from Mueller and scored from 12 yards out.

Mueller made it 2-0 just three minutes later with a 15-yard right-foot shot following a pass from Jackson Yueill. Sebastian Lletget got his fourth goal with an 18-yard chip in the 23rd and the rout was on. 

Mueller scored again in the 25th minute on a diving header off a pass from Akinola, who grew up in the Toronto area and is also eligible to play internationally for Canada.

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