Alajuelense's Jonathan McDonald in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal action against host Arabe Unido on March 20, 2014, in Panama City. (Photo: Oscar Sanchez)
ALAJUELA, Costa Rica – After a two-year spell abroad, it is hard to believe that Jonathan McDonald could have expected his return to Alajuelense to go this well.
After all, the Manudos are in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and currently sit third in the Torneo de Verano with 28 points, five behind co-leaders Herediano and Saprissa, but with a game in hand.
The 26-year-old originally played for the Costa Rican power from 2010-11, before signing with Sweden’s Kalmar. He rejoined the team on January 13 and has scored four goals in all competitions, including one in a 2-0 win over Panama’s Arabe Unido that set-up Alajuelense’s semifinal CCL date with Toluca.
There’s no turning back now for McDonald. He is looking directly ahead at Tuesday’s first leg encounter against the Red Devils.
“The group is 100% focused on the game,” the impressive forward told CONCACAF.com. “All the team is fantastic for the game. We hope to win here and just go to Toluca and handle the next game.”
Handling games is something that Alajuelense does extremely well. It is unbeaten in five straight CCL outings and 11 of its last 14. Perhaps, most significantly, the Rojinegros have never lost at home in the competition (6-3-0).
Finding a way to overcome Mexican opposition – home or away – has become one of the club’s specialties. In order to reach the CCL’s knockout stages, it defeated Club America twice by the same 1-0 score. The win at the Azteca on October 22 sealed the Group 4 title and advancement.
“I wasn’t here when Alajuelense won at America,” commented McDonald, who played for Costa Rica at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. “I saw the game. We played defense and tried to counterattack.
“We have this motivation that if we don’t win here in Alajuela that we can go to Mexico and win there. It is a good position for us to play at home first.”
McDonald is Alajuelense’s all-time leading scorer in the CCL with four goals, including the only one in a 1-0 victory at home against Morelia almost three years ago.
A win over Toluca on Tuesday will make his homecoming even more spectacular.