LD Alajuelense – Match Report vs. CD Aguila (27/07/2022)

Alajuelense fought Aguila to a 1-1 draw in CONCACAF League action. Given the relative strength and reputation of the two leagues, it has to be seen as a disappointing result for the Costa Ricans. The game was extremely chippy with lots of fouls and very few clear-cut chances for either team. The field was quite muddy and there were periods of heavy rain during the match. Alajuelense played in a 4-4-1-1 while Aguila played in a 3-5-2.

Ratings:

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

Aaron Suarez 

  • Nationality: Costa Rican
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 27/06/2002
  • Current Club: LD Alajuelense 
  • Career: Saprissa (Y), AD Juventud Escazuceña
  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Left

Aaron Suarez started the match as a #10 and was later shifted to the right wing. He showed some flashes of skill but ultimately struggled to break down Aguila’s very stout defence. 

Suarez showed some very good on the ball speed and looked dangerous when running into space (emphasis on the word “looked”). He often dropped deep, both when defending to interrupt opposition moves and to get involved in his own team’s build-up. He showed a lot of defensive effort and was quite effective at using his small frame to bump opposition players off the ball. With the ball in deeper areas, he was a very adept ball carrier. He was also very adept at playing quick-flicked passes to teammates. On several occasions, he would be able to quickly flick the ball to a teammate whilst under pressure either with a volley or by lobbing the ball into space. 

His first touch was a little bit inconsistent. Once he got the ball at his feet and started moving he looked very strong but getting it under control initially was a bit of a struggle. Despite his quite good passing over the short and medium range, his long-range passes were mostly unsuccessful. 

At the end of the day though, Suarez was totally unsuccessful at penetrating Aguila’s last line of defence. He had one long-range shot and played a couple of passes to players who had long-range shots themselves. You’re not going to move to a higher level if you are a #10 who can’t break down a defence from the Salvadorian top flight. Suarez has a ton of skill but that skill is meaningless if he can’t turn it into tangible results. I think perhaps he could be more successful if deployed as an aggressive #8 in a three-man midfield. 

Rating: B2

Suarez has some undeniable skill but there are lots of players out there with skill. He’s probably worth keeping an eye on in case he figures it out but at the moment he wouldn’t be at the top of my shopping list. 

Doryan Rodriguez 

  • Nationality: Costa Rican 
  • Age: 19
  • Date of Birth: 18/01/2003
  • Current Club: LD Alajuelense
  • Career: LA Alajuelense (Y)
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Doryan Rodriguez started as the centre-forward for Alajuelense in this match and displayed a lot of the characteristics would hope for in a #9. He was very good at holding the ball up and shielding the ball with his body. Despite only being 5’9 he won a lot of balls in the air through sheer scrappiness. He also put a lot of pressure on the Aguila defenders when they were trying to play out of the back, demonstrating a strong work rate. But he didn’t score any goals and didn’t ever look particularly close to scoring any. In fairness, he did score a goal that was called a foul, a bit unfairly in my opinion, but beyond that, there was not much. He did a great job of getting on the end of a Carlos Mora cross that was high, looping, and along with his trademark scrappiness but that was his only shot of the game. Some of this was down to the failure of his teammates to create any kind of dangerous opportunity but he also needs to take some responsibility for not making anything happen. Another problem that he had was his first touch was a bit bouncy. He was by no means the worst on the pitch but he squandered a huge chance to score when he took a dreadful touch straight into the goalkeeper’s arms after intercepting a pass. There were also a couple of other times where he could have potentially made something more happen if his first touch had been a bit quicker. Despite his first touch struggles he did show a bit of good dribbling skill at one point when he was in a tight spot and managed to beat one player and then win a corner. 

Rating: B2

Like Suarez, Rodriguez is worth keeping tabs on in case he figures it out. His strike rate in his fledgling career is pretty good and he showed a lot of the non goal scoring skills you would want in a striker in this match. But he needs to be a scoring threat consistently if he wants to move to a higher level. 

Ian Lawrence

  • Nationality: Costa Rican
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 28/05/2002
  • Current Club: LD Alajuelense 
  • Career: Brujas (Y), Saprissa (Y), AD Juventud Escazuceña
  • Position: Left Back
  • Preferred Foot: Left

Ian Lawrence played as a left-back in this match and frankly I was not that convinced. The main issue was Lawrence’s on-the-ball skill which was very lacking in this particular match. Lawrence lost the ball a lot through poor touches. The state of the pitch no doubt played a factor but it seemed he was losing the ball through a poor touch over 50% of the time it came to him. On one occasion the ball was played out wide to him in a huge amount of space and the ball went under his foot as he attempted to control it, totally wasting the opportunity. He also gave the ball away a lot with headed passes. This seems like a bit of an odd thing to list as a weakness but it happened at least four or five times. His ball striking was also extremely poor in this match. He completely whiffed on two shots. The first of which he actually showed some nice dribbling to get himself in position. His passing was hit and miss. There were a couple of nice progressive passes down the touchline but there were also some passes that seemed to go to nobody. 

Defensively there was a bit more to like. Lawrence pressed very aggressively on the wing and mostly won the ball when he did so. On the rare occasions, he was caught out he showed a good pace to recover. He was only beaten outright 1v1 once. He was very good at intercepting the ball but his aforementioned issues with his first touch limited what he could do with them. 

Rating: D

Lawrence is only 20 and this game was not exactly played in ideal conditions. But at the same time, the opponents were from the Salvadorian league, a league that has not produced a continental trophy-winning side since the 70s. If you can’t get it done against them, even in sub-optimal conditions, I have serious questions about your ability to move to the next level. 

Carlos Mora

  • Nationality: Costa Rican
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 18/03/2001
  • Current Club: LD Alajuelense 
  • Career: LD Alajuelense (Y), Once De Abril
  • Position: Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Carlos Mora played as a right winger in this game, though he briefly switched to the left-hand side as well. He definitely wins some points for creating Alajuelense’s only clear-cut chance of the game, which resulted in their only goal. But, unlike the other players covered in this article, Mora is already a full Costa Rica international. This is the sort of game that he should be dominating and he was just ok. 

Mora probably had the best first touch of any of the players covered in this article. The difficult pitch conditions did not seem to give him as much trouble as his teammates. He also showed some good interplay with the overlapping Ian Smith and some really good dribbling. He was able to beat players quite consistently and showed some real flair to get out of tight situations. But sadly this flair and creativity did not really extend to the final 3rd. There were lots of crosses aimlessly lumped into the box and he took a couple of highly speculative long-range shots when he probably would have been better off trying to work a better shot. He did have a very good dribble into the box for Alajuelense’s goal so the ability is there but it is not applied consistently enough. 

Mora did some very good defensive work. He was not exactly a rock 1v1 but he was alright and he did make some good defensive reads to intercept passes and he was not shy of tracking back to do defensive work. Mora has had some dalliances at right-back or as a wing-back in the past and I think that might be his best position if he wants to make it to a higher level. This would make the most of his dribbling and passing without putting so much pressure on him to break down defences. 

Rating: B1

Mora has skill and time to improve but he’s not a consistent enough offensive threat to make the jump to a higher level at this stage. 

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