Report: United States men's national soccer team was involved in potentially fixed game

Players on El Salvador's national team are alleged to have been involved in potentially fixing the result of a game against the United States in 2010. (Mike Carlson/AP file photo)

UPDATE: I spoke Saturday night with Bob Ley and other sources about ESPN's reporting on fixed soccer games played in the United States. The first thing I learned - and this was referred to on air but sort of glossed over - is that fixing in the two matches referred to below have been known about for a while.

There was a story last summer on ESPN Deportes' version of the investigative program E:60 about match-fixing involving El Salvador's national team. Both the U.S.-El Salvador game in 2010 and the Mexico-El Salvador game in 2011 were mentioned.

That E:60 program also referred to a CONCACAF Champions League game between Real Salt Lake and Panamanian club Arabe Unido played on August 28, 2010. Friday's Outside The Lines show did not mention it because of time constraints.

I bring this up because some people raised it to me on Twitter in the wake of the OTL story. I didn't recall hearing about it previously, but a few conversations Saturday night jogged my memory of something happening at that time. This story from the Salt Lake Tribune has some details. It's not known whether Dan Tan's syndicate tried to orchestrate this fix, or whether it was someone else.

Finally, I asked Ley whether he had heard of any other games involving the U.S. national team potentially being fixed. Both he and I heard from a lot of people on Twitter who wondered about certain games.

Most notable among them was the U.S.-Slovenia 2-2 draw at the 2010 World Cup, which ended with a controversial refereeing decision that denied the U.S. a winning goal.

But Ley, who has covered multiple World Cups and countless U.S. national team contests, said he did not know of any other fixed games.

Here is the story I wrote Friday. I've added links to video clips and an audio podcast of the OTL show.

I wrote earlier this week about the scale of match-fixing that has recently been exposed in international soccer.

On Friday, news broke that some fixing may have taken place in the United States.

ESPN's Bob Ley, host of the network's "Outside The Lines" program, reported on Friday afternoon's show that "matches played here in the United States are suspected of being tampered with, including a game won by the U.S. national team."

Ley quickly added that "there is no hint, no suggestion, that anyone on the winning side knew anything about this, and the U.S. Soccer Federation has never been approached by FIFA in these ongoing investigations."

Ley did not initially specify which U.S. game was in question. He later stated that it was a February 24, 2010 friendly game between the United States and El Salvador played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. That game ended as a 2-1 win for the United States, with Sacha Kljestan scoring the winning goal in the 92nd minute.

I have asked for a comment from U.S. Soccer and I'll let you know when I hear back.

To be clear: there was no involvement by the U.S. national team or anyone on the American side of things in a potential fix. Everything that happened took place on the Salvadoran side.

"A Salvadoran player told ESPN he and some teammates received a check drawn on a Singapore bank," Ley said on air. "They were given specific, designed plays that had to unfold in to satisfy the syndicate fixing the match."

Ley then confirmed that FIFA investigated that game as potentially being fixed.

Another game involving El Salvador that FIFA investigated was a July 5, 2011 Gold Cup group stage game at Cowboys Stadium against Mexico. The final score was 5-0 in Mexico's favor, and allegedly the fix was put in for that to be the final score.

At halftime, the game was scoreless. An anonymous source told ESPN that he had heard five days before the game that it was potentially fixed. In addition, ESPN reported that on the day of the match, some squad members met with members of a Singaporean gambling cartel linked to notorious fixer Dan Tan.

With the score 4-0 in second-half stoppage time, El Salvadoran player Marvin González was whistled for making contact with Mexican star Javier "Chicharito" Hernández in the 18-yard box. Referee Enrico Wingaarde, of Suriname, signaled for a penalty kick.

In the 95th minute, Hernández scored from the spot, producing the 5-0 final score.

You can listen to an audio podcast of the Outside The Lines report on match-fixing in soccer here.