Alajuelense's Johan Venegas attempts a shot during a CONCACAF Champions League game against Toluca on April 1, 2014, in Alajuela, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
ALAJUELA, Costa Rica – Though a 1-0 loss to Toluca in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal was disappointing, Alajuelense believes that it is poised for a comeback in the return match on Tuesday.
Those sentiments are grounded in precedent. On their last visit to Mexico in October, the Manudos upended Club America, 1-0, to seal a place in the tournament’s knockout rounds.
“The team continues to be motivated,” said goalkeeper Alfonso Quesada. “The only thing lacking (against Toluca) was a goal. We know that we had chances. They didn’t fall, but we haven’t lost hope.
“We have objectives and we want to fulfill them and that can be done. We know that we have the confidence to be able to get a result there.”
Alajuelense had its chance to get a result at home, but Jonathan McDonald did not convert on penalty kick that would have given his team a lead in the second half. Moments later, Toluca defender Paulo da Silva netted the game’s only goal.
After the match, McDonald emphasized the necessity of moving beyond that miss.
“I have the mental fortitude, it is one of my qualities,” said McDonald. “I have my mind already set on the next match. I take responsibility. I took the ball and I missed the penalty. Now to keep the head up and get past this bitter pill.”
Quesada offered full supported for his teammate, who is the club’s all-time leading CCL scorer with four goals.
“Jonathan is bothered,” the 25-year-old expressed. “He is a goal scorer. He is a player with a lot of fight and we are with him. We are a team and we are united.”
Now Alajuelense will look to come back next week in Toluca, where the altitude is always a factor for any visiting side. Skillful winger Allen Guevara acknowledged the task’s difficulty, but noted that the team possesses vast experience.
“The altitude can weigh heavy, but we are going to try to prepare ourselves,” said Guevara. “Next week, we are going to go there to accustom ourselves. The altitude has something to do with it. It is complicated, but all the same it’s not much. We have played internationally and we are accustomed to that.”
The second leg between Toluca and Alajuelense will be played on April 8at the Estadio Nemesio Diez.