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El Salvador vs USMNT final score: Morris makes mud-caked draw

Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards look into their crystal ball for the upcoming Premier League season one day after Championship Sunday.

The United States men’s national team earned a gutsy, messy, mud-caked 1-1 draw with El Salvador through Jordan Morris’ late goal at Estadio Cuzcatlan in CONCACAF Nations League action on Tuesday in San Salvador.

Played in a rainstorm on a pitch that already looked like a below-average neighborhood park just after a winter thaw, the comeback drive and effort was notable at a venue that saw the teams stage a 0-0 draw in World Cup qualifying.

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Alexander Larin fooled Ethan Horvath in the first half, the USMNT goalkeeper rooted in a mud puddle, but Morris came off the bench to force nod home Luca de la Torre’s cross for an equalizer as both teams finished with 10 men.

Paul Arriola was given a straight red card in the 70th minute for a reckless challenge but El Salvador’s Ronald Rodriguez was then sent off in the 78th minute for a takedown of Yunus Musah.

The draw gives the USMNT four points through two matches, while El Salvador has seven from three. Grenada has one from three.

The tournament will not conclude until after the World Cup. The Yanks will go to St. George’s to play Grenada on March 24 before hosting El Salvador three days later.

It’s difficult to take anything away from this game.

But because it’s one of the few times we’ll get to watch Gregg Berhalter’s men play in U.S. shirts ahead of the World Cup, we’re gonna have to try our best.

El Salvador vs USMNT final score, stats

El Salvador 1, USMNT 1

Scorer: Larin (36'), Morris (90')

Possession: El Salvador 37, USMNT 63

Three things we learned from El Salvador vs USMNT

1. Can’t learn much from the soccer, but can glean plenty about the team: There are some out there who will jump to conclusions based on these 90 minutes on a pitch that looked more likely to produce torn ACLs than highlight-reel goals. And, for sure, El Salvador scored a goal and delivered a typically physical performance against the Americans. But this wasn’t like the pre-match antics in Couva where Bruce Arena made jokes about the pitch status and the team then delivered an insipid show.

Rather, the Yanks worked hard and produced the lion’s share of chances in a C-level competition on a pitch they could’ve laughed off as woeful. In fact, it might’ve been a 5-2 win on another day if not for a sensational show from Salvadoran keeper Mario Gonzalez.

If you’ve read this space, you’ll know I have plenty of worries about the Gregg Berhalter era but there’s no doubt in my mind that this was a victory for his team and a sincere sign of the heart U.S. Soccer fans came to identify in their team from the first 15 years of this century. If the away draw in the same building during World Cup qualifying looked like this, the complaints would’ve numbered fewer.

2. Arriola sent off in mildly controversial fashion: The quality of the pitch and weather conditions lends some leeway to any player, but Paul Arriola’s sliding effort to catch a ball in the El Salvador box caught Alexander Larin with his foot well above the turf and on the boot. It was questionable given the non-calls against El Salvador, but it’s certainly not the first time a player’s been sent off for a similar move.

3. We shouldn’t be too harsh on Horvath: Nottingham Forest goalkeeper and CONCACAF Nations League Final hero Ethan Horvath hasn’t gotten too many looks between the sticks for the USMNT thanks to Zack Steffen and Matt Turner, but it’s really harsh to judge him for a mistake made essentially in a bog.

Horvath stayed rooted to his puddle of mud in the middle of the six when Alexander Larin’s shot beat him to the near post. He should’ve read shot instead of cross, but Reggie Cannon did not close down the shooter/crosser and seemed as much at fault given the conditions. It’s a shame that any player’s World Cup hopes could go down on a night like this. We’re pretty sure Berhalter won’t be swayed too much by the error, but you never know...

Man of the Match: Yunus Musah -- The Valencia man was spectacular. He drew the red card on Rodriguez and you feel a box with real footing would’ve found Musah with a pair of goals.

Follow @NicholasMendola