Club Name: Santos de Guápiles
Stadium: Estadio Ebal Rodriguez
Manager: Erick Rodriguez
CONCACAF League: Finalist (2017)
Style of Play
Santos has tactical flexibility, but to a fault.
Caught between a 4-3-3 and a 5-4-1, Santos struggles to form an identity at times. The objective is the same no matter the formation: get the ball to the lone striker. It’s how the team goes about it that separates the “good” Santos from the disappointing one.
The defensive block is low in a 5-4-1. Santos sets the restraining line in its own defensive half. There are no pressing triggers to speak of. The defense relies on winning aerial duels and clearances. In transition—when the chance to counter is on—the distribution to the lone striker is a hopeful penetrating pass into space. It will not connect often, but for a team with a clinical finisher and only needing a single goal, not many opportunities are needed.
The more nuanced Santos is effective and dynamic in the 4-3-3. The removal of a CB for an anchoring defensive midfielder creates an additional layer in the attack. There is more emphasis on wing play. The task of getting the ball to the center forward has increased probabilities. 1v1 duels on the wing create opportunities for better service inside the area. This is only possible when the anchoring midfielder can cover space in transition, providing an added layer of protection.
The level of opposition will always dictate which formation is deployed. Santos is rarely looking to go toe-to-toe on the big stage.
No one sees more of the ball in possession for Santos than Osvaldo Rodriguez. His defensive responsibilities are more often on the front foot, allowing him to push the attack vertically. With a single pass, Rodriguez can play a block of defenders out of position. He can carry. He can finish. He is worthy of the captain’s armband.
When Javon East eats, Santos wins. His hold-up play allows wingers to make dangerous runs in transition, but it’s his prowess inside the area that makes him the most complete finisher in the league.
Juan Diego Madrigal
Relying on young center backs, Santos turns to Juan Diego Madrigal to lead the back line. Madrigal is tactically flexible enough to play one of the three center back roles, but is better utilized as a right wingback. In his old age, he cleverly turns the touchline into a second defender. His crossing technique provides East the requisite service in the final third.
|#||Player Name||Position||Playing Style|
|1||Douglas Forvis||GK||Keeper Sweeper|
|31||Kevin Ruiz||GK||Shot Stopper|
|37||Alexander Jimenez||RB||Attacking Fullback|
|15||Juan Diego Madrigal||RB||Balanced|
|2||Michael Barquero||LB||Attacking Fullback|
|21||Everardo Rubio||CB||Ball-Playing Defender|
|6||Mauricio Salas||DM||Deep-Lying Playmaker|
|17||Osvaldo Rodriguez||CM||Deep-Lying Playmaker|
|24||Geremy Gomez||RM||Wide Midfielder|
|22||Bryan Lopez||Winger||Playmaking Winger|
|11||Denilson Mora||FWD||Mobile Striker|
|9||Luis Paradela||FWD||Playmaking Winger|
|19||Erson Mendez||FWD||Mobile Striker|
|77||Nael Elysee||9||Mobile Striker|
|–||Yauycell Wright||9||Mobile Striker|