San Juan Jabloteh were shown the exit on Tuesday night in the Scotiabank CONCACAF League Round of 16, going down 2-1 in the return leg against Santos de Guapiles as the Costa Ricans advances to the quarterfinal round later this month with an 8-3 aggregate score.
Another Pro League club, Central FC, meanwhile will fancy their chances at rebounding from a 2-1 deficit when they visit Panama’s CD Árabe Unido on Thursday in their second leg clash.
Jabloteh, determined to overturn a 6-2 loss in Costa Rica, drew first blood at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Trinidad after just three minutes through a converted Adrian Reid penalty.
The Jamaican defender wrong sided Santos goalkeeper Alejandro Gómez from the penalty spot after Nathan Lewis was upended in the box by defender Pablo Arboine.
Gómez and Arboine were among six starting changes from the last meeting by Santos head coach Johnny Chaves who had to do without first leg scorers Kenny Cunningham, Youstin Salas and Starling Matarrita – the latter two left out of the 18-man squad entirely after Sunday’s “difficult” 2-2 away draw against LD Alajuelense—the new club of Trinidad and Tobago international Jamille Boatswain—in the Costa Rican Primera Divison.
But unlike Santos who had taken the lead on four minutes in the first leg in Costa Rica on August 1 and went on to a comfortable victory over Jabloteh, the Trinidadian side lost the lead just over half hour when defender Jose Garro headed past goalkeeper Shemel Louison off a Wilmer Azofeifa free kick—Jabloteh’s mountain challenge to win by four clear goals turned into Everest.
Santos would later find the winner through Eder Solorzano in the 71st minute following a spill in the six-yard area by Louison into the path of Leonardo Adams, who, had his close up attempt blocked by the Jabloteh ‘keeper before playing back to Solorzano – Santos’ eighth scorer of the round of 16 – who fired into the net from ten yards out.
“Jabloteh played good attacking football [and made it] very difficult for us,” Santos head coach Johnny Chaves told the post-game.
“They (Jabloteh) changed the system with excellent play. [But after] sixty minutes they decrease,” continued Chaves who had studied Jabloteh over the past month and a half including a visit to Trinidad to witness Jabloteh’s 1-0 win over Morvant Caledonia in Couva on June 27.
“I take my notes,” he said. “So I told my players be patient, be patient, move the ball and they will drop the pressure. It was also very important [for us] to score goals.
“Jabloteh created two or three chances but they couldn’t score. And we scored when we have the chance.”
Santos shot-stopper Alejandro Gomez made two excellent diving saves in the last twenty minutes to put behind low drives from Julio Noel and Jevon Morris, while late substitute Kadeem Hutchinson saw his attempt crash off the upright.
It was a miserable end for Jabloteh who dominated the visitors—a side second on the Costa Rica Primera Division standings after two games—for most parts and should have had taken in the lead at the break after a 39th-minute chance fell to Nathan Lewis in the six yard area after Gomez missed a Jairo Lombardo cross. But Santos scrambled a clearance ahead of the Trinidad and Tobago international winger.
“You saw more confidence in the way we played and we stayed a lot more organised,” said Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey after the game. “In Costa Rica I think after four minutes when the goal—the penalty was given up, I think we opened up too much and that’s how they picked us off and that’s how we (conceded) six goals.
“But tonight we (were) a lot better and we will use [the positives of] this game in the Pro League going forward and I am sure you will see us next year again [in CONCACAF].”
Jeffrey admitted his team lost steam beyond the hour mark, but said Santos were guilty of timewasting.
“No train run [all time]. It must stop. So after sixty minutes we made some changes, we regrouped, and we went ahead.
“They played deep in their half and their plan was to hit us on the counterattack and from the free kicks. They were allowed too much timewasting because the speed and intensity we were playing at, they couldn’t keep up with it [and] they used timewasting to slow down the game, to break our momentum—but that’s all part of the game.
“I think the experience against Santos was a good experience,” added the Jabloteh coach who made adjustments after his side’s defeat at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, giving starting roles to Lombardo, who was used off the bench in the first leg, and Julio Noel and Kennedy Kinkson replacing with Vurlon Mills, Jesus Perez and Kion Joseph.
Perez and Shakiyl Phillip were said to be ill, while no reason were given on absence of Kion Joseph and goalkeeper Javon Sample—the first choice shot-stopper absent in both games.
“We realised there is no structure and formation (sic) for speed,” Jeffrey explained. “So we went about going with the faster players and played a bit more direct.
“In Costa Rica we didn’t look like we (went) to play, we had a game plan and it went out the window after four minutes. [But] tonight we stuck to the game plan in the first forty-five minutes and in the second half we adjusted to how (Santos) played. It’s just sad that their second goal – with the goalkeeper and his handling – they went ahead.
“But I am pleased because we compete. Santos, kudos to going forward.”
Santos will face the Honduras Progreso-Chorrillo FC winner in the quarterfinal round, with the first-leg encounters played August 15-17.
Jabloteh, meanwhile, will now focus on a return to domestic play on Tuesday 15 August when they host three-time Pro League champions Central FC from 6pm at the Barataria Oval.
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Adrian Reid 3’ pen.) vs Santos de Guapiles 2 (Jose Garro 32’, Eder Solorzano 71’), at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Trinidad.
San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison (GK); 3.Josiah Trimmingham, 6.Akeem Benjamin, 9.Keithy Simpson, 11.Damian Williams (Capt.) (Yellow Card) (7.Elijah Manners 84th minute), 13.Julio Noel (20.Aaquil Campbell 78th minute), 16.Jairo Lombardo (Yellow Card) (22.Kadeem Hutchinson 78th minute), 18.Jevon Morris, 23.Kennedy Simpson, 24.Adrian Reid and 27.Nathan Lewis.
Unused substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK); 17.Vurlon Mills.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Santos de Guapiles: 21.Alejandro Gomez (GK); 3.Pablo Arboine, 8.Edder Monguio (Capt.), 11.Reimond Salas (23.Diego Diaz 66th minute), 15.Juan Diego Madrigal, 17.Marvin Obando, 20.Wilmer Azofeifa, 26.Leonardo Adams (29.Rigoberto Jimenez 80th minute), 27.Eder Solorzano (Yellow Card), 28.Jose Garro, 71.Osvaldo Rodriguez (24.Kenneth Dixon 76th minute).
Unused substitutes: 1.Bryan Morales (GK), 2.Michael Barquero, 4.Ian Smith, 7.Kenny Cunningham.
Coach: Johnny Chaves
Referee: Gladwyn Johnson (GUY)
SCL 2017: San Juan Jabloteh vs A.D. Santos de Guápiles Highlights.