In a hard-fought match marked by an aggressive host team and a less-than-stellar performance by the visiting U.S. squad Sporting Kansas City, Costa Rica’s Saprissa qualified Thursday night for the quarterfinals of CONCACAF’s Champions League. Saprissa beat Kansas City 2-0 in a San José stadium packed with energetic Tico fans showing their purple pride.
It’s been a good year for Costa Rican football, with the Ticos turning in an extraordinary performance earlier in the year at the Brazil World Cup 2014. This week, the women’s national team made the semifinals of CONCACAF’s Women’s Championship USA, and with a perfect 3-0-0 record, las Ticas are one match away from qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Canada 2015. The Ticas face Trinidad and Tobago today at 2:30 p.m.
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In Thursday night’s match, Saprissa’s Heiner Mora was the first to score in the 23rd minute, followed by Ariel Rodríguez, who knocked one in early in the second half after a quick and aggressive offensive onslaught.
Kansas City, meanwhile, seemed like a much different squad than the one that beat Saprissa 3-1 just a few weeks ago in the United States.
“Saprissa played with more heart and managed to score goals. The artificial turf affected us, but Saprissa has a strong defense and good individual players,” U.S. coach Peter Vermes said in a press conference following the game.
Costa Rica now has three teams in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals – more than any other country – with Saprissa joining Alajuelense and Herediano. The MLS, on the other hand, will send only two of six teams to the quarterfinals early next year, although D.C. United finished group stage with a perfect 12 points. D.C. United will face Alajuelense, which finished with only six points.
Here are the teams that will meet up in the quarterfinals:
Group 1: Pachuca (Mexico), 9 points
Group 2: Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica), 7 points
Group 3: Montreal Impact (Canada), 10 points
Group 4: D.C. United (U.S.), 12 points
Group 5: Olimpia (Honduras), 9 points
Group 6: Alajuelense (Costa Rica), 6 points
Group 7: Herediano (Costa Rica), 10 points
Group 8: Club América (Mexico), 10 points