Carlos Watson (pictured) is in his third stint as Saprissa head coach. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Following a hugely successful 2016, Saprissa has no plans to slow down over the next 12 months.
The Monstruo Morado captured a 33rd Costa Rican title last month by employing a hard-working philosophy. It’s aiming to do much of the same on Sunday against San Carlos in the 2017 Verano opener for each.
“We have been able to maintain physical form,” said Saprissa head coach Carlos Watson during a press conference on Tuesday. “We will have to recover competitiveness in the remaining days this week. We will see what happens on Sunday if we have been correct in the decisions we made.”
Some of the decisions include the departures of key defenders Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo) and Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United) and midfielders Juan Bustos Golobio (loaned to Cartagines) and David Guzman (Portland Timbers). New additions are midfielder Keven Aleman, goalkeeper Aaron Cruz, and defenders Dave Myrie and Yostin Salinas.
Not only does Saprissa face a stiff challenge to repeat as domestic champion (it last did so in the 2014 Verano and the 2014 Invierno), it will also take on Pachuca in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals starting in February.
Saprissa will also have to make do without the services of midfielders Ulises Segura and Marvin Angulo; and goalkeeper Danny Carvajal for five games potentially. The trio, who made a combined 80-Invierno appearances, were called up to Costa Rica for the 2017 Copa Centroamericana, which will be played from January 13-22 in Panama.
Nevertheless, Watson is certain there’s enough roster depth to make-up for those personnel losses.
“I want to see an improved Saprissa in regards to the desire, eagerness and sacrifice that these players have who are going to have the opportunity,” he finished. “I’m convincing them of the qualities they have. That their competitiveness is ideal, that they have confidence, that they are creative, fight, run and that we win on Sunday.”