After their narrow 1-0 loss against the United States in the Concacaf Nations League, head coach Hugo Perez was asked about his future, specifically, if he would be open to coaching the USMNT.

With El Salvador just losing out to a tough US side, thanks to a Ricardo Pepi goal in the 62nd minute that saw them knocked out of the Nations League, the Salvadorian-American manager was asked about potentially taking over the Stars and Stripes.

The US job has been in limbo since Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022. After three months and several controversies later, Berhalter still isn’t back in the picture. Instead, interim head coach Anthony Hudson has taken over the reins.

“If I say yes or no, they’ll kill me in my country,” Perez responded.

“I know they have an interim coach right now. I hope, for the sake of our football here in America – let’s face it, the US wants to win the World Cup. It’s a great opportunity that they’re not going to qualify for the [2026] World Cup, they’re already in.”

The former US international has been in charge of Los Cuscatlecos since 2021, leading them to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup knockout rounds and the final stages of World Cup qualifying in 2022. Before this, the 59-year-old spent two years (2012-14) coaching youth US national teams, getting to know many players currently with the senior squad.

“Look, I know all those players. I don’t know what percentage [of them] started with us in the national team, ” he said.

Perez went on to say that while coaching will be important for the US going forward, the player pool, that he once coached as youth products are the key for their future success.

“I’m sure they’re going to make the right decision who they’re going to bring, or leave [Hudson] as the coach. Basically, the coaches are important, don’t get me wrong, but the players that they have, OK, those players that they have right now … you’re talking about a generation for another 15 years,” he continued.

“I think they took one team and played Grenada [on Friday], then they brought some other players to play against us. So that tells you the depth that they have, and you go back to the Under-23s, the same thing. So it’s a matter of, whoever comes in, can they really take the best out of them and be able to better than what they are already?”

While Perez would be a phenomenal appointment for the US, he reiterated his desire to stay with El Salvador and lead them to their first World Cup appearance since 1982. 

“What matters to me is getting to the Cup; well, back to the qualifying games for the World Cup. Qualifying for the World Cup, that’s our goal and that’s my job, to prepare our players.”

In the end, what’s clear from all of this is that Perez is a talented manager that is capable of taking teams to the next level.

Hudson even said as much after the game on Monday.

“I have to give credit to El Salvador. Coming off the back of a 7-1 win, and playing at home, the confidence is high. But they’re a tough team to play against. The coach always has a very clear plan of how to have his team play and yeah, they made it very difficult for us.”

For now, El Salvador will continue to build on the progress they have made under Perez as they look to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in four decades.


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