Atlanta United’s first competitive matchup of the season is nearly here. Here’s a quick primer on the club and the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense players who may play a significant role across the two legged Concacaf Champions League tie.
Disclaimer: I am not a Liga de Fútbol de Primera División or Liga Deportiva Alajuelense expert, but I’ll try to give my two cents on the team.
Alajuelense has some clout in Costa Rica. Founded in 1919, the club has won the second most championships in Costa Rica with 30. Only Deportiva Saprissa has more (35). They’ve also finished as runners up in the competition 24 times. According to FIFA, Alajuelense was a founding member of the Primera División and is the only club out of the original seven members which has never been relegated from the top flight.
In February, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics named the ten best clubs in the CONCACAF region over the last decade. As you probably predicted, Mexican teams dominated the list, but three Costa Rican teams made the cut. Alajuelense features 10th.
As is customary for MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League, Atlanta United’s first opponent is already in season. Flashscore.com shows Alajuelense at the top of the table with 30 points from 14 games. Alajuelense is the only undefeated team in the Primera División and have a +21 goal differential. Santos de Guápiles F.C sits in second place, eight points behind the league leaders.
However, Alajuelense has drawn their last two matches, which came against 9th place Limón and the aforementioned second place Santos de Guápiles. They take on A.D San Carlos and C.S. Herediano between the time of writing and the Champions League Round of 16, so keep an eye on those results heading into the Champions League game.
Formation/Players to watch out for
Transfermarkt shows Alajuelense normally rolls out in a 4-4-2, sometimes with a diamond. Information isn’t available for every game, so take this with a grain of salt. Transfermarkt also has the average age of this squad at 25.7.
Alajuelenses’s most featured defender is 20-year-old Carlos Mora — who has made 37 appearances, more than any other player in the squad including the goalkeepers — across the Primera Division and the CONCACAF League.
Keep an eye on Marcel Hernandez. The Cuban leads the team with 11 goals in 16 appearances.
The front line, which consists entirely of Costa Ricans, seems to rely on four players more so than any others: Bryan Ruiz, Jurguens Montenegro, Aloso Martinez, and Barlon Sequiera. They all have at at least 31 appearances and 27 goals between them. The outlier here is Bryan Ruiz. He’s 35 years old, but the other three are 22 and younger.