History repeats for NYCFC against Costa Rican debutant

The second leg played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey was a much cagier affair and decided by a lone goal from Callens, giving NYCFC a 6-3 aggregate win

The Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL) Draw always delivers intriguing match-ups for each year’s upcoming tournament and the 2022 edition is no different, with New York City FC (NYCFC) taking on Santos de Guapiles of Costa Rica, according to Concacaf.

By virtue of their penalty shootout win over the Portland Timbers in last Saturday’s 2021 MLS Cup two Saturdays ago, NYCFC qualified for their second SCCL, Concacaf said. 

“Their first appearance came in the 2020 edition when they finished as quarterfinalists, ultimately eliminated to eventual champions Tigres 5-0 on aggregate,” it said. “However, in their Round of 16 series, NYCFC were drawn with Costa Rican club AD San Carlos, which was making its debut in the SCCL.” 

Concacaf said there was no shortage of goal-scoring fireworks in that series. 

It kicked off with a thrilling first leg in Costa Rica in which NYCFC emerged with a 5-3 victory. Forward Heber scored a hat trick, while Alexander Callens and Alex Mitrita contributed goals for the visiting North Americans, Concacaf said. 

It said NYCFC held a 2-1 lead at halftime before the two teams combined for another five goals in the second half. 

Concacaf said the second leg played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ was a “much cagier affair” and decided by a lone goal from Callens, giving NYCFC a 6-3 aggregate win, ranking as one of the highest scoring Round of 16 SCCL ties in history. 

“Now, two years later, NYCFC find themselves in a nearly identical position,” Concacaf said. “Standing in their way of a place in the quarterfinals is another team from Costa Rica that is making their debut in the SCCL: Santos de Guapiles.” 

Just like AD San Carlos two years ago, Santos de Guapiles have qualified for the 2022 SCCL as one of the two best losing quarterfinalists in the Scotiabank Concacaf League, Concacaf said. 

San Carlos played in their lone SCL in 2019, falling to Alianza of El Salvador 2-1 on aggregate in the quarterfinals of the 2019 SCL, while in the 2021 SCL, Santos de Guapiles succumbed 4-3 on aggregate to Forge FC of Canada. 

“Yet, Santos have three previous appearances in the SCL under their belts,” Concacaf said. “So, playing in continental competition is nothing new for them. 

“Despite being first-timers to the SCCL, the Ticos should provide stiff opposition to the newly crowned MLS champions,” it added.