Saprissa looks to Sequeira for goalkeeping depth

Saprissa's Mario Sequeira (pictured) runs on to the field as a substitute during a Costa Rican Invierno match against visiting Carmelita on July 24, 2016, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Saprissa)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – After opening the 2016 Costa Rican Invierno season with a draw at UCR, Saprissa has won two straight games without conceding a goal.

Comfortably ahead in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over visiting Carmelita, head coach Carlos Watson decided the time was right to give one of his young back-up goalkeepers some top-flight experience. In the 77th minute, 19-year-old Mario Sequeira was handed his first-team debut, entering as a substitute for Danny Carvajal, who left the pitch to a loud ovation for the home fans.

With the domestic campaign well underway and 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League play starting next month, the Monstruo Morado wants to develop depth at all positions. Earlier in July, usual reserve goalkeeper Kevin Briceno underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to be out for up to six months.

“Things were going well,” said Watson, when asked why he opted to make the goalkeeping switch. “The opponent must understand our goalkeeping situation. The two boys who follow Carvajal are very young and any opportunity that I have I must put them in to play.”

As for Sequeira, running out on the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma pitch for the first time in an official match was moment that he won’t soon forget.

“It is incredible,” enthused Sequeira. “Never in my life had I felt such immense joy. It is the opportunity in my life for which I had been waiting since years ago and hopefully opportunities like these keep coming.”

For his part, Carvajal appreciated the supporters’ encouragement, especially since he has been key in a pair of consecutive clean sheets following the 3-3 tie that launched the season.

“The most important thing when committing errors is to respond with work,” Carvajal finished. “This week things were intensified with everything that happened in order to regain confidence. Thank God it is paying off and you have to keep doing it.”

Saprissa returns to action on Wednesday, when it hosts Cartagines.