Hartford Athletic's Walmer Martinez celebrates his first goal for El Salvador, which sealed a 3-0 victory in World Cup Qualifying on Tuesday night and a place for La Selecta in the Second Round of qualifying this week.
Hartford Athletic’s Walmer Martinez scored his first goal for El Salvador on Tuesday night to help seal the country’s place in the second round of FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying in a 3-0 victory against Antigua & Barbuda at Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.
A California native, Martinez signed his first professional contract with the Athletic this preseason after impressing during training camp after concluding his college career at Cal State Monterey Bay. He had recorded one assist in three appearances for Hartford before earning his first international call-up for this month’s World Cup Qualifying games alongside FC Tulsa’s Joaquin Rivas.
Brought on as a halftime substitute for El Salvador against the Benna Boys on Tuesday night, the 22-year-old capped the side’s victory with a sharply taken finish with five minutes to go that put the game out of reach for the visitors.
El Salvador will now face St. Kitts & Nevis, which includes South Georgia Tormenta FC’s Raheem Somersall in its ranks, in a two-legged playoff that will begin on Saturday before concluding next Tuesday. The winner will advance to the final stage of Concacaf Qualifying, joining the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras for the final octagonal stage of qualifying this fall.
Also advancing to the Second Round is Curacao and Oakland Roots SC goalkeeper Zeus De La Paz. The Roots SC shot-stopper is a back-up to Eloy Room of Columbus Crew SC for Curacao, and the side advanced to face Panama in the second round after securing a 0-0 draw with Guatemala on Tuesday night to finish top of Group C.
Sacramento Republic FC goalkeeper Rafael Diaz and the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, entered the final game of the first round with a chance to qualify, but despite a solid performance in goal by Diaz the visitors were unable to get the win they needed against a strong Panama side, falling 3-0 at the Estadio Rod Carew.
USL Championship and League One players saw action elsewhere on Tuesday night, with Hartford Athletic’s Nicolas Cardona and Memphis 901 FC’s Raul Gonzalez helping Puerto Rico win its second game of the week in a 2-0 victory against Guyana that also saw Birmingham Legion FC’s Jaden Servania come on in the 64th minute for the visitors as they claimed victory in Bassaterre, Guyana.
Fort Lauderdale CF’s Modesto Mendez made his debut for Cuba alongside FC Tulsa’s Jorge Corrales, while FTLCF’s Dairon Reyes came off the bench in the second half and provided the assist for Maikel Reyes in a 1-0 victory against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Dairon Reyes recorded a goal and assist in his first two appearances for the country as it wrapped up its first round with a pair of victories.