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U.S.-El Salvador Soccer Match Will Probably Be Held at Coliseum

Times Staff Writer

Instead of traveling to El Salvador to play that country’s national team before 50,000 of its zealous fans, the United States probably will play its next game in the World Cup qualifying tournament at the Coliseum, a spokesman for the U.S. Soccer Federation said Friday.

After the Federation Internationale de Football Assn. (FIFA), the international governing body for soccer, ruled that play has been suspended in El Salvador for at least one month, John Polis of the USSF said soccer officials in that country requested that the game July 9 against the United States be moved from San Salvador to Los Angeles.

FIFA officials are expected to respond today.

Polis said that El Salvador officials chose Los Angeles instead of a neutral site, such as Mexico City, because their team has played several exhibition games at the Coliseum, including four within the last two months, and also because of the large number of Salvadorans living in Southern California.

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Noting that the closed-circuit telecast of the Costa Rica-El Salvador game from San Salvador last Sunday at the Forum attracted a capacity crowd of more than 11,000, mostly Salvadorans, Polis estimated that the game at the Coliseum, tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m., would draw about 40,000 fans.

A Coliseum spokesman, Bob Schwartz, said tickets probably would go on sale Monday if FIFA approves the switch.

With eight minutes remaining in El Salvador’s game against Costa Rica at San Salvador, unruly fans, upset by their team’s play when it fell behind, 4-2, disrupted the game by running onto the field. Others threw bottles, cans and fruit. The referee stopped the game, awarding the victory to Costa Rica by forfeit.

FIFA officials ruled Thursday that no games can be held in El Salvador until at least July 25.

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Polis said that the USSF had not requested a site change. “We knew it was a possibility after what happened down there,” he said. “But our stance all along was that we were ready to travel, and we were.”

The U.S. team has been told to meet Monday in Torrance.

Midway through the qualifying tournament, the United States has a 2-1-1 record. El Salvador is 0-1. The two teams in the five-team tournament with the best records at the end of the year will advance to the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Costa Rica leads the tournament with a 4-2-1 record.


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