Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A View From the Other Side: Santos Laguna (#2)

Real Salt Lake -vs- Santos Laguna
Courtesy of Big Soccer poster BeHereNow
(This is the second of two previews by Santos Laguna supporters)

The 2008 Superliga, (the first of three tournaments for the recently crowned Mexican League Champion Club Santos Laguna) is not only in the crosshairs of the team itself but of the inchas as well. Lets face it ever since the ambush at Jeonju (that I still gives me nightmares) Concacaf football in the area has never been the same.

But before my beloved team squares off against The New England Revolution, Chivas USA and Pachuca, Santos will get a taste of American Soccer when they face your Real Salt Lake. Truth be told, I know as much about your team as you do about mine. (I’m sure that some of you might have heard of one Oswaldo Sanchez)

For someone like myself who has been mildly interested by MLS since its inception in 1996, when you think of MLS you think of the LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, and D.C. United.

(Actually, in 1996 when the MLS hit the seen I rooted for the Galaxy passionately for that season, but I don’t know what happened I just lost interest)

On the other side of the coin, for someone who is mildly interested in Mexican Soccer; America, Chivas de Guadalajara, Pachuca and maybe Pumas are the clubs that you are most likely to know.

Both our clubs are overlooked by the bigger metropolitan area clubs, but that’s ok, you don’t have to be well known to be successful. Aside from the horrible mismanagement of my club from 2001 to 2007, (which is a story onto itself that involves corruption, jail, and drugs and that almost got us relegated and my extended family in tatters) Santos Laguna has been one of the most successful clubs since the Mexican season was split into two short seasons accumulating more titles (3) than any club aside from Pachuca (5) and Toluca (5).

Lets get to the here and now. Who will Real Salt Lake face on Wednesday night? They will face an attacking minded team with a solid midfield and dangerous wingers.

Keeper: Oswaldo Sanchez. The end.

The Defense: Santos Defense is one of the most dangerous defenses offensively in the Mexican League. Edgar Castillo and Ivan Estrada (both nominated for winger of the year by the FMF) are players who go forward and back on D throughout the game. While Castillo’s marking has been questionable on more than one occasion, his creativity on offense more than makes up for it. The Centerbacks of Fernando Ortiz and Rafael Figueroa are solid at the center of the D, they are not flashy and they are not Franz Beckenbauer, but they get the job done and keep the screw ups to a minimum.

The Midfield: Constituted of attacking players and nothing else, the midfield of Santos is among the best in Mexico and one of the only ones that do not play with a 5. (Note: A 5 represents a defensive mid, like a 10 represents an offensive wizard. Ex. Diego Maradona) Fernando Arce, Walter Jimenez, and Juan Pablo Rodriguez are all players that have a good touch off the ball and are good at finding open spaces. But the number 10 of the team Daniel Luduena will be missing in action due to a knee injury that forced him to get surgery. He is a big loss but its better to have him out now than later on during the season.

The Forwards: Vicente Matias Vuoso and Chritian Benitez aka Beetlejuice, are an attacking duo that complement each other well. Vuoso is a player who gives it his all and fights for every ball. He is not a finesse player, but Benitez is. Benitez is agile, fast and very creative. (Although both of these guys have more than their share of easy misses that will drive the average fan nuts.)

(Sorry I didn’t go in-depth on our line up, but quite frankly I don’t want to bore you more than I have to. Lets face it after Wednesday you won’t care about the Ecuadorian guy with the goofy looking head.)

My prediction for the game is: Like all teams that come out of the United States, I expect Real Salt Lake to be a very solid team defensively waiting like a cobra from Indiana Jones to strike. I have not seen much of your team but by the way my team plays, I see Real Salt Lake wanting to exploit the spaces Santos will give throughout the game. If Real Salt Lake plays solid on D and if they make the most of their opportunities I could see them winning this thing.

Santos might play a lot of their reserves but with this being their last game before the Superliga I think they will give their starters heavy minutes. The team has achieved good results the last couple of games against 2nd division opponents but Real Salt Lake is not 2nd division.

Score: Santos 2 RSL 0

Good Luck to all.