Saprissa's Marvin Angulo gives the thumbs-up sign after scoring against the visiting Portland Timbers in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match on September 14, 2016, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – A monumental clash awaits Saprissa on Wednesday, when it faces the host Portland Timbers in the last Group B match of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
The Monstruo Morado (2W-1D-0L, 7 points) will advance to the quarterfinals with a win or a draw. That task will not be an easy one. Portland (2-0-1, 6) is tied for the second-most wins at home in MLS this season with 11 in 16 games and needs to take all three at Providence Park in order to progress.
Before Saprissa can think about the defending MLS champion, it must first deal with a Saturday visit to Costa Rican champion Herediano in a top-of-the-table Invierno clash.
“Whichever field Saprissa goes to, it has to look for the result,” said Saprisa goalkeeper Danny Carvajal. “The whole week we have talked about winning and going to find three points because it isn’t the same of being two or three points [ahead] than five if we win.”
Saprissa (10-4-2, 34), which is coming off a 6-1 win over Limon, and Herediano (9-5-2, 32) sit in first and second place, respectively. The sides have a combined goal difference of +42. Only two of the other 10 teams have scored more goals than they conceded.
The importance of playing smart, mistake-free football cannot be emphasized enough said Saprissa forward Ulises Segura, who has two SCCL goals.
“We know the options they have up front," the 23-year-old remarked. "You have to take care of all the details. You have to take advantage of their errors. We have to see to the small details in order to be able to take advantage.
The match-up against a local rival and next Wednesday’s SCCL meeting is part of an important month for Saprissa.
“We have a crucial month,” finished Carvajal. “The preseason that we had and all that we planned for is playing out well. The team is good. It is motivated and any player wants to go into the finals well.”