Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A View From the Other Side: RSL vs Saprissa

Real Salt Lake -vs- Saprissa
from the perspective of Big Soccer poster MoRado

After 4 games in Mexico, Saprissa continues its preseason tour vs. Real Salt Lake. Saprissa played Necaxa, Jaguares and 2 Primera A teams and got 2 draws, one loss and a win vs. Jaguares, so I could say that we have a pretty good solid team, a mix between experienced guys like Porras, Drummond, Badilla, Centeno, Gomez (all of them played on the 2006 World Cup) and a lot of rookies that come from the youth team. Eleven players are having their first preseason experience with Saprissa´s A team .

Either Jose Francisco Porras or Keylor Navas will start on the goal line, Porras has a lot of experience but he is getting old, on the other hand, Navas is young and played the second half of last year's tournament and the Concacaf Champions cup with success, so I think we are starting with him.

I expect a 3 men defensive line with Drummond, Badilla and Cordero, then the Nicaraguan-born Yader Balladares on the left and Andres Nuñez on the right side.

Michael Barrantes may play defensive midfielder role, assisted by Celso Borges (Alexandre Guimaraes son) and Walter Centeno.

Most likely to start on top will be Alejandro Alpizar (top scorer of the Costa Rican league last year) and Ariel Santana.

I expect Saprissa to play with something like this:


Justin Campos (coach) may be a little bit aggressive and go with Armando Alonso instead of Walter Centeno or Celso Borges. A new player named Alexander Robinson has been starting in the last two games vs. Necaxa and Jaguares, but I haven't seen him playing yet, so I can't really say anything about him, hopefully he is a good defensive midfielder because we need one, since Jose Luis Lopez got transferred to Melbourne FC (Aussie League).

Who to watch:
Armando Alonso, a fantastic player with lots of skills and "jogo bonito".
Centeno, great playmaker and free kick specialist, 3 goals on last year's Gold Cup.
Celso Borges, great playmaker and maybe the best midfielder in Costa Rica right now.
Alejandro Alpizar, top scorer of the team and a very skillful player.

Some fact you may or may not know about Saprissa:
Saprissa only hires Costa Rican players.
Saprissa has 4 Costa Rican championships on a row.
Saprissa´s oswer is Jorge Vergara, Chivas and Chivas USA owner.
Saprissa is the backbone of the Costa Rica National Team.
Saprissa has never lost a Concacaf Champions cup knock out round vs. an MLS team.
Some MLS teams that Saprissa has eliminated in the last 2-3 years are Dynamo, Fire, Galaxy, and Wizards.

My prediction for this game is a 1-1 or 1-0 victory for RSL, since this is a preseason game for us and a lot of substitutions will be done, also, lots of rookie players may play their first game on the USA in their lives.

Saprissa will play Puntarenas FC on the first game of the Costa Rican League next Saturday and then they'll play a team from El Salvador on the last friendly game before this upcoming season.