Hugo Perez has coached many of the current Players in the U.S. men’s national team squad and although his focus is on helping El Salvador reach the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, the former USMNT player didn’t hold back praise for the current roster.
Perez watched from the sidelines on Monday night at Exploria Stadium as El Salvador fell to the USMNT 1-0, finishing second in Group D of League A in Concacaf Nations League action. La Selecta came into the match needing a victory to top the group and reach the tournament’s knockout stage this summer, but conceded a second-half winner to Ricardo Pepi.
El Salvador fought valiantly against the USMNT in both of its head-to-head showdowns during the Nations League, with the Americans needing a 90th minute equalizer from Jordan Morris to earn a 1-1 draw last June. Perez has posted a 10-9-18 record since being appointed manager of El Salvador in April 2021, leading La Selecta to the Gold Cup quarterfinals that summer and also earning victories since then over Honduras, Panama, Jamaica, and one draw against the United states.
After going toe-to-toe with the USMNT in Monday’s latest showdown, Perez praised the current generation of talent in the U.S. Soccer program.
“Look, I know all those Players. I don’t know what percentage [of them] started with us in the national team,” he said postmatch. “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 U.S. wants to win the World Cup. It’s a great opportunity that they’re not going to qualify for the  World Cup, they’re already in.”
“I’m sure they’re going to make the right decision who they’re going to bring, or leave [Anthony Hudson] as the coach,” Perez added. “Basically, the coaches are important, don’t get me wrong, but the Players that they have, okay, those Players that they have right now..you’re talking about a generation for another 15 years.”
The USMNT made seven starting lineup changes from Friday’s 7-1 victory over Grenada to Monday’s result in Orlando. Star talent remained on the field with Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, and Matt Turner all reclaiming their spots in Hudson’s lineup while Pepi made an instant impact off the bench.
Several other USMNT Players were not included in the March window due to respective reasons including Tyler Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Malik Tillman, and Josh Sargent. The growing number of senior options will only continue to grow as well as several youth talents continue to make their way to Europe.
Perez will now prepare his El Salvador squad for a deep run in this summer’s Gold Cup before gearing up for World Cup Qualifying starting in March 2024. The USMNT could be on La Selecta’s radar later this summer, providing another opportunity for Perez to defeat one of FIFA’s growing programs.