The national soccer teams of Guatemala and El Salvador played to rousing cheers from a Coliseum crowd of 18,791 Friday night in the first game of the Marlboro Soccer Cup, and Guatemala won, 2-1, when forward Carlos Castenada broke a tie 17 minutes into the second half with a header from 10 yards out.
Guatemala, which is headed for the Olympic Games at Seoul next month, will face the Mexican club, Universidad de Guadalajara, at 6 p.m. Sunday in the championship game. Guadalajara defeated Ireland's Olympic team, 3-0, in Friday's second game.
The turnout was considered a success in light of the fact that the tournament's biggest draw, the Mexican national team, pulled out of the competition at the last minute. Mexico didn't play because of the recent turmoil over its suspension from the 1988 Olympics and the 1990 World Cup by FIFA, the world's governing soccer body, for using over-age players at the Youth World Cup.
Clive Toye, chairman of Mundial Sports--the tournament's promoter--and commissioner of the American Soccer League, said he was pleased with the size of the crowd.
"Yes, it's true the tournament would have been a bigger success with the Mexican national team, but it doesn't cast a shadow over it," he said. "That's too strong a term. It figures to be a success as it is."
Both El Salvador and Guatemala had their share of supporters on hand Friday.
A loud roar went up when El Salvador forward Salvador Coreas opened the scoring 15 minutes into the match with a left-footed shot from 12 yards out that bounced past Guatemala goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez.
An equally enthusiastic roar came from the opposite side of the field when Guatemala tied the score three minutes later on a spectacular individual effort by midfielder Adan Paniagua. He gathered the ball in the penalty box, weaved through two defenders and blasted a 15-yard shot high into the net.
Guatemala got the game-winner off a free kick from the side. Forward Byron Perez's centering cross pass found Castenada, who leaped all alone above a crowd of defenders and headed the ball into the net.
In the second game, Universidad de Guadalajara scored two goals within a minute to beat Ireland. Midfielder Alfonso Sosa made it 2-0 19 minutes into the second half with an uncontested eight-yard shot. A minute later, forward Octavio Mora scored on an almost identical shot on a breakaway.