Provo » El Salvador opened its short week of training for Saturday's World Cup qualifier by spending nearly three hours on conditioning. The national team, which faces the United States in Rio Tinto Stadium, conducted mostly running drills aimed at getting the team used to the altitude.
The Salvadorans, coached by former Mexican international Carlos de los Cobos , are working out on the BYU soccer practice field. The evening session was much shorter.
The Salvadorans were greeted by a small but excited group of fans, nearly two dozen, who stood behind a chain-link fence snapping camera shutters. BYU TV-International filmed a segment for later broadcast.
According to BYU soccer coach Chris Watkins , acting liaison between the school and El Salvador, de los Cobos is keeping his team focused squarely on soccer. BYU has offered to escort the team for sightseeing.
"He's kept them on a tight leash," Watkins said. "Eat, hotel and soccer. It's all business."
De Los Cobos, named coach of El Salvador on Aug. 26, 2006, dismissed any problems about adjusting to play at 4,200 feet.
"I feel it won't be a factor," he said through an interpreter. "I expect our national team to play well. We're very happy in Provo, getting ready for an important game."
De Los Cobos was more concerned with having a short week to prepare for the United States.
"We only have four days to work," he said. "The players have come here for the competition in excellent condition."
Something to prove
El Salvador's intensity during its two-a-day practices is a direct result of the team's recent performance in the CONCACAF World Cup competition.
The team lost a home match Aug. 12 to Trinidad & Tobago, 1-0.
Cornell Glen scored in the sixth minute for T&T, dropping El Salvador to the bottom of the table standings with five points, in fifth-place tie with T&T.
El Salvador last qualified for the World Cup in 1982, where it lost to Hungary by a still record 10-1 score.
Those meddling kids
In a never-ending quest to determine the United States' influence upon world culture, here's this: The ring tone for a support member of the El Salvador team was the theme from the popular cartoon "Scooby-Doo."