SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Santos de Guapiles is through to the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League semifinals thanks in part to a tactical tweak from head coach Johnny Chaves.
The Costa Rican side pulled out a 1-0 victory over visiting Chorrillo FC on Tuesday night to capture the quarterfinal series 2-0 on aggregate.
After utilizing a 5-4-1 formation in last week’s first leg, Chaves shifted to a more offensively flexible 4-1-4-1, with midfielders Jose Garro, Osvaldo Rodriguez and Wilmer Azofeifa proving to be pivotal pieces.
The strategy worked perfectly as Starling Matarrita’s 17th-minute goal was a result of Rodriguez cutting off a pass from Chorrillo’s Manuel Vargas and starting a counterattack that ended with Kenny Cunningham assisting with a cross from the right.
“We set up a 4-1-4-1 in order for us to defend and then change at the moment of attack, which Jose Garro allowed us to do,” said Chaves. “Osvaldo and Azofeifa played as interior midfielders, so the opponent did not play through balls on us. That was the intention of that system.”
Next up for Santos in the SCL will be a final-four showdown in September against the Arabe Unido-Aguila winner.
For Chaves, it will be crucial to keep his squad fresh as it balances international ambition with domestic duties. In the Costa Rican Invierno, Santos will visit Grecia on Sunday and then host Guadalupe on August 30.
“We need time to work on the physical,” Chaves concluded. “Next week we have to face Guadalupe. Afterward, we will work on the physical. When you play a Sunday-Wednesday it is taxing.”