Andes and the El Salvador Federation were kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time and we greatly appreciate that. He reached out from Florida where he and fellow St. John's Men's Soccer alum Pablo Punyed will take on the USMNT with local player Kyle Duncan and his Red Bull teammate Aaron Long tonight at 7:30 on TUDN, UniMas & ESPN News.
Though I had been in touch with Andres a bit, after bigger games, following the passing of his father, etc. this was the first extended talk since he left the Cosmos. He was a fan favorite for the NY Cosmos, given the sizable Salvadoran population it was no surprise with him being both a great player as well as person and then at times the captain of his national team. I related to him that during a Gold Cup in Philly, he was warming up behind me, the fans were very loud for him, I turned and saw many of the fans from the NY Cosmos there with a team flag, yelling and screaming for him. Upon seeing me, I got lots of attention, surprising the rest in press row. He was active in the community as we covered a visit of his to a local restaurant on Old Country Road just a short distance from their home field and training center.
With the USMNT having a massive advantage, 17-1-5 with no losses to El Salvador since 1992, before most players were born, what are your thoughts? He informed that they have not had proper preparations for the game as just today had they trained, but only for an hour at the stadium, while the USMNT have been in camp for a week.
As far as the year that is ending and the one beginning with Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming, what does he expect? It has been he shared, crazy yes, hoping that with a vaccine it gets better to help all humanity. He had no idea on camps for his NT, leagues, qualifiers, etc., but hopes to get a camp in to see his other players and train together, noting the last camp was a week long in Jan of 2019 in California for the Iceland game.
When asked about his group for WC Qualifying, he said he did not know enough about his group but that as the time draws nearer they will. They will then see how to prepare and train in advance of these games. I fully understand given all the uncertainty.
His team is on a run of 8 consecutive Gold Cups, I asked what is the driving force behind such success. They take the Gold Cup as a serious responsibility he told me, they are able to prepare well, and despite players being in many nations, they have similar styles of play making it easier when they do get together.
There is a great disparity in international experience at the senior level as the ESNT averages 27 caps to the USMNT's 6 and 10 of those in the US camp remain uncapped at the senior level. He did indicate the those with more caps have a greater experience at this level, all will gain good experience and skill. He will be interested to see how this plays out, with the younger players v those with more such games under their belts. Given most players for the US are coming out of MLS, he has not been asked much, as one of just 2 for his side to play there, of the opponents.
What does he make of his team coming from: 2 MLS, 1 USL, 6 Alianza in ES, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, & Iceland (Punyed)? The others are in various leagues yes, but we have shared characteristics as similar players and us the same style, making it easier to get together on style of play.
How would expect to interact with his ex-teammate at the Timbers, Farfan being with the USMNT for this game? El Ruso told it would be special for him to see his friend in the USMNT uniform, that he is a great player and person, they will surely greet each other on the field.
Flores has been fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of my fellow St. Johns Men's Soccer alums, Derby Carillo, Punyed, Jimmy Mulligan, Tim Parker, so he was asked if he saw any similarities in their play. He did not see any commonalities with their styles but did note that all were good guys & very competitive players.
As to his expectations of the game, we both had as our #1 that there be no injuries, he hopes for the team to close out the year without any for him and his players. He feels the game will be interesting, there is not added pressure as it is a friendly, enjoy the game as players and all do want to show up and play well.
This game is being played in the re-named Lockhart Stadium, historic for soccer in the USA as the likes of Mueller, Cubillas, Best, etc. called it home and he had played there with the Cosmos facing the Strikers himself. Before the Strikers went back there it had become overgrown, it happened again, just renovated by the David Beckham backed Inter-Miami. He informed that is a great all new stadium. Their game will be 50% longer than their training session there yesterday.
He and Lucky Mkosana while with the NY Cosmos began their studies with a program affiliated with Real Madrid, a past team of NY Cosmos teammate Raul. He brought me up to speed in that both had successfully completed their studies there in 2017. Flores furthered his education with SNHU who are a partner with MLS where he also took care of his undergrad degree and now has an MBA. I shared with him my thoughts on this as being a great thing, should he want to remain with soccer in the future it adds to his value and could also add to his income by way of some front office work.
He does not expect to re-join the Timbers. To those decision makers in the domestic leagues, he would be a tremendous addition for what he brings both on and off the field.
We are of course well biased towards the US team and the long history also supports this. However as the saying goes "this is why they play the games". We wish both luck and cannot wait until 7:30, the countdown has begun.