Olimpia’s Kevin Alvarez (pictured) in Scotiabank CONCACAF League final, second-leg action against host Santos de Guapiles on October 26, 2017, at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
As 2018 quickly approaches, CONCACAF.com is taking a look back at the most interesting items from throughout the Confederation over the previous 12 months.
CONCACAF 2017: FIVE OF THE BEST CONCACAF LEAGUE GAMES
#1: Santos de Guapiles 0-1 Olimpia (Final, Second Leg)
October 26, 2017 – Estadio Nacional/San Jose, Costa Rica
Olimpia earned the inaugural Scotiabank CONCACAF League (SCL) title, overcoming host Santos de Guapiles in the two-legged final, 4-1 on penalty kicks. Michael Chirinos scored the second leg’s only goal in the 21st minute, giving the Honduran power a 1-0 win and leveling the series, 1-1 on aggregate. The sides went directly to penalty kicks after the final whistle brought the second half to a close. Olimpia lifted its first CONCACAF trophy since the 1988 Champions’ Cup by converting each of its four attempts.
#2: Olimpia 3-1 Alianza (Quarterfinals, Second Leg)
August 24, 2017 -- Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino/Tegucigalpa, Honduras
In one of the 2017 SCL’s most entertaining matches, a Carlo Costly header five minutes into second-half stoppage time boosted 10-man Olimpia to a 3-1 victory over visiting Alianza and into the semifinals. The Leones captured the quarterfinal series, 3-2 on aggregate. Costly beat goalkeeper Victor Garcia from 12-yards out off a long pass from the left by Alexander Lopez. The host went ahead 1-0 two minutes into the match as Roger Rojas slipped the ball home after Garcia punched away Johnny Palacios’ free kick. Gustavo Guerreno equalized in the 45th minute, only for Olimpia to regain the lead in the 55th minute, when Costly scored off a pass from Lopez.
#3: Santos de Guapiles 1-0 Arabe Unido (Semifinals, Second Leg)
September 21, 2017 -- Estadio Nacional/San Jose, Costa Rica
Kenny Cunningham scored in the 86th minute to give Santos de Guapiles a 1-0 win over Arabe Unido and a place in the 2017 SCL final. Santos won the semifinal series, 1-0, after a scoreless draw in the first leg in Panama City, Panama. Goalkeeper Francisco Alejandro Gomez was outstanding for the host, helping the club record its fourth straight shutout in the competition. His kick save on Carlos Small's close-range shot in the 77th minute was key.
#4: Plaza Amador 2-1 Walter Ferretti (Quarterfinals, Second Leg)
August 24, 2017 – Estadio Rommel Fernandez/Panama City, Panama
Ernesto Sinclair snapped a tie early in the second half to lift host Plaza Amador to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Walter Ferretti and secure a berth in the 2017 SCL semifinals. The Panamanian side captured the series by the same score after a 0-0 draw in the opener. In the 55th minute, Plaza’s Richard Rodriguez powered a 25-yard shot that goalkeeper Denis Espinoza saved, leaving a rebound for Sinclair to slot home. With the game just 25 seconds old, Plaza took a 1-0 lead as Jose Murillo hammered home from the penalty arc. Jose Bernardo Laueiro leveled for the visitor in the 41st minute from the penalty spot.
#5: Plaza Amador 1-7 Olimpia (Semifinals, First Leg)
September 14, 2017 -- Estadio Rommel Fernandez/Panama City, Panama
If a high-scoring game gets your heart pumping, then you would have been more than energized by Olimpia’s stunning 7-1 win over host Plaza Amador in the first leg of the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League semifinal. Roger Rojas and Michael Chirinos scored two goals apiece as both teams played nearly half the match with 10 players after Plaza's Edgar Aparicio and Carlo Costly of Olimpia were ejected in the 42nd minute. Prior to departing Costly tallied in the 12th minute to give the visitor a 1-0 lead. The advantage was doubled in the 22nd minute, when Alexander Lopez drilled a 20-yard blast over goalkeeper Eric Hughes' outstretched arms. Five minutes later, Rojas ran onto a through ball to make it 3-0. Plaza pulled one back through Ervin Zorrillato make it 3-1 in the 39th minute through Ervin Zorrilla. Chirinos restored Olimpia’s three-goal lead in the 61st minute as his effort deflected off defender Lid Carabali and into the net. Rojas and Chirinos struck for their second goals in the 65th and 68th minutes, respectively, before Jesus Canales’ 81st-minute free kick punctuated the scoreline.