Head Coach: Carlos Watson
Qualification: 2015 Costa Rican Invierno champion
SCCL Appearances: 6 (2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17)
All-Time SCCL Record: GP-36; W-16; D-7; L-13; GF-55; GA-49
Best SCCL Finish: Semifinals (2010/11)
Saprissa is making its sixth appearance in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League after capturing the 2015 Costa Rican Invierno championship. A year ago, the Monstruo Morado finished second in Group A behind Santos. The three-time CONCACAF club champion’s best SCCL finish came in 2010/11, when it defeated Olimpia in the quarterfinals (agg: 3-1), before falling in the semifinals to Real Salt Lake (agg: 2-3). In the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup, Saprissa posted a 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad in the match for third place.
Significant roster moves have been made since the end of the 2016 Invierno title-winning campaign. Gone are defenders Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo) and Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United) and midfielders Juan Bustos Golobio (loaned to Cartagines) and David Guzman (Portland Timbers), while midfielder Hansell Arauz will be out for an extended time with an ACL injury. In are midfielders Keven Aleman and Anderson Leite, goalkeeper Aaron Cruz, and defenders Dave Myrie and Yostin Salinas.
Group Stage Summary
Saprissa didn’t lose any of its four Group B games, but it followed what has proven to be a successful formula by winning twice at home and drawing twice away. The Monstruo Morado was dominant offensively at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, outscoring its opponents 10-2. On the road, a stingy defense proved to be extremely effective as two outings ended in a combined score of 1-1. Another interesting aspect of Saprissa’s campaign was its ability to take control of a match early, netting seven of its 11 goals in the first half. In 360 minutes of play, it trailed for only 27 of those.
Six players accounted for Saprissa’s 11 group-stage goals, while five assisted on eight of those strikes. However, only Marvin Angulo scored three goals and set-up two others. The 30-year-old midfielder turned in assured performances in all four games, showing an eye for the intelligent pass. He coolly converted two penalty kicks in the 4-2 win over Portland. Angulo’s overall presence instilled confidence in the side.
Marvin Angulo, Rolando Blackburn (3); Ulises Segura (2); Francisco Calvo, Fabrizio Ronchetti, Ulises Segura, Mariano Torres (1)
Marvin Angulo, Daniel Colindres, Mariano Torres (2); Hansell Arauz, Ulises Segura (1)