It is a little over a month away from the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Monterrey. The US Army commanded by General Zachary Taylor surrounded and took the Mexican town of Monterrey defended by 10,000 Mexican troops using urban battle tactics. On a warm evening in Monterrey last night the current inhabitants showed they are now more than a match for any modern day invaders, albeit ones from Costa Rica and not the US.
Saprissa were outplayed for large parts of the game as Monterrey’s strong midfield maintained possession easily and played much higher up the pitch than Saprissa were able to. When Saprissa did regain control of the ball the Mexican’s pressing tactics hurried Saprissa into trying to launch quick counter-attacks which invariably broke down.
Monterrey found most of their success down their right hand side of the field, the goal came when Osvaldo Martinez broke into the penalty area on the right and crossed for Aldo De Negris, he was unmarked about 6 yards out and had the simple task of tapping home. Shortly after Abraham Carreno found more space down the right and was able to run at the keeper, he chipped his shot over the oncoming Gonzalez only to see the Morados captain Cordero clear the goal-bound effort.
Saprissa set themselves up in a 4-3-3 formation with Centana and Alonso given the task of creating something in midfield. They tried to supply width through their full-backs, with Drummond on the right increasingly keen to get forward. In truth he had a poor game and was named as “Villain of the game” by Costa Rican newspaper Diario Extra for his propensity to commit errors and his lack of fitness and technique.
Monterrey’s stars Humberto Suazo and Walter Ayovi didn’t start but came on in the second half. Suazo immediately showed his class with some intelligent movement and one powerful strike from outside the area. Ayovi played on the left side of midfield and showed good touches and added necessary composure to help Monterrey close out the game.
Saprissa seemed to rouse themselves slightly with an hour gone, substitute Arrieta did have the ball in the net following a great header but it was ruled out for offside. Soon after Centana hit a swirling shot from 30 yards that Orozco just managed to turn aside for a corner. Even with this extra determination Saprissa were unable to exert any real pressure on Monterrey players in possession and the Rayados maintained control of midfield throughout.
The final statistics show Monterrey slightly dominated possession 51% – 49% and created more chances. Saprissa will be disappointed they couldn’t get more from the game but will feel they have the ability to get results from their 5 remaining fixtures. For Monterrey this was a good start although they would have liked to turn their dominance into a few extra goals. They will be pleased to get off to a winning start and will go to Seattle full of confidence.
Next up for Saprissa is a home game against Marathón of Honduras on August 26th while Monterrey travel to Seattle on the 25th. Marathón and Seattle play each other tomorrow in Honduras.