Santos De Guapiles – Match Report VS. NYCFC (12/02/2022)

Santos De Guapiles, without three key players due to work permit issues, fell decisively to NYCFC in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League tie. They played in a very low block with a 5-4-1 formation. They offered very little attacking threat and struggled to contain NYCFC’s attacking play. But this does not mean that there were not some interesting things to learn about a couple of their players.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Josimar Mendez

Player Profile

  • Nationality: Costa Rican 
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 19/09/2001
  • Current Club: Santos de Guapiles
  • Career: Santos
  • Position: Striker/Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Josimar Mendez’s play in this game is a bit difficult to evaluate. Playing in an ultra-defensive shape against a much better opponent is not exactly an environment in which an attacking player will have a lot of opportunities to show their best self. Mendez played both wings and as a striker during the match. He was clearly asked to hold his position in the low block and look for chances to break forward on the counter. He did a lot of the things you would hope for from an attacking player in that situation. He made some good defensive plays, worked very hard, and showed a lot of physical strength in aerial duels. Mendez is not the tallest player, standing at only 5’8. But he has a very strong build and throws himself into challenges very enthusiastically so even when he loses a duel he often causes the opposing defender to clear the ball less effectively.

But, at the end of the day, he did very little offensively. He often found himself with the ball against a large number of opposing defenders. To be sure, this is not an easy situation to be in but all Mendez really had to offer was trying to knock the ball past his opponents or just turning around and passing backwards. There were also a couple of times when he showed questionable decision-making. On one occasion he had some space to dribble into the penalty area but instead let the ball go out of play for a corner. On another occasion, he chose to dummy the ball instead of shooting and caused the chance to fizzle out (keep in mind Santos had one shot inside the penalty area the entire game). So decision making, and making his opportunities count is clearly an area of his game that needs some development. 

Rating – B2

Mendez did show a strong work rate but nothing to really show he is ready for a step up in competition. He is only 20 so there is still time for him to develop his skills and improve his decision-making. But based on this performance I would say we are at least a couple of years away from seeing him ready to take another step 

Pablo Arboine 

Player Profile: 

  • Nationality: Costa Rican 
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 03/04/1998
  • Current Club: Santos
  • Career: Santos, Sarpsborg 08, HB Koge, San Carlos, Santos de Guapiles
  • Position: Centre Back 
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Arboine played in the middle of a back 5. He was tasked with being more aggressive and stepping out of the backline to interrupt attacks. He had a few good moments. He won a lot of headers and did make a couple of defensive interventions. Arboine is on the short side for a centre-back, he’s only 5’8, so the fact that he can win as many headers as he does is a testament to how good of a jumper he is. But Castellanos regularly got the best of him both in physical duels and with his movement. I have to imagine that against a bigger striker than Castellanos there would be a lot of potential for him to get bullied physically. Arboine closed down opposing players tenaciously and this did lead to him winning the ball back from time to time.

Generally, he was well-positioned to defend incoming crosses however there was one incident where the ball just sort of bounced over his head and his clearances were not always the most convincing. When clearing the ball he was often twisting awkwardly to meet the ball. He showed some good recovery speed on a few occasions but he only had to show that because he got beaten to the ball. Santos did not have a lot of the ball but when he did have it at his feet he didn’t look the most comfortable. He did not have any egregious giveaways but he didn’t look confident enough to play progressive passes, opting instead to keep things simple.  

Rating: C

He was not totally awful but he didn’t really show anything to suggest he could step up a level. His physical makeup already puts him at a disadvantage and the other areas of his game don’t quite make up for it, at least not against an opponent on the level of the reigning MLS champions. 

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