In a downpour in Guapiles, Costa Rica, the Real Monarchs got their first taste of preseason action on Thursday in a matchup against Santos de Guapiles, a first division club in Costa Rica.
Mixing a roster of new and returning players that had been working out in camp for nearly a month, Head Coach Freddy Juarez had plenty to be happy about despite a 2-1 defeat on the rough, slick grounds Ebal Rodriguez Aguilar Stadium.
“It was a good game, a good exercise,” Juarez said. “The second half was a little bit better as far as getting forward and creating chances. The first half, both teams had a lot of energy and a lot of sloppy play, which is to be expected this early in the preseason. A lot of positives. A lot more positives than negatives.”
Colin Rolfe scored the lone goal for the Monarchs, netting a second-half score to go up 1-0 only to see the lead slip away on a pair of late set-piece goals from Santos. And while the result wasn’t ideal, getting extended playing time in the first match of the Monarchs’ preseason trip to Costa Rica showed positive signs for the second-year club.
“Great energy. The guys get along and work for one another,” Juarez said. “We’re not going to dwell on it. They understand that it’s early in the preseason. We’ll get better as we go along.”
While preparing for their matches against A.D. Carmelita and Generacion Saprissa, the Real Monarchs are fortunate enough to train at the natural grass field of General Cable Conducen (www.generalcable.com). This field is constantly used by some of the most recognizable teams in Costa Rica - as well as national team selections when playing against the "Ticos." Surrounded by tall trees and lush vegetation, this field offers the Monarchs total privacy for their training sessions.
Also while in Costa Rica, the Monarchs are focusing on more than just soccer. Already in their first week away, the club has visited an orphanage as it continues its community outreach efforts that have been ubiquitous in Salt Lake City, even while in preseason training in a foreign country.
“You never know what kind of impact you can make on someone’s life,” Monarchs forward Ricardo Velazco said. “It was an overall great experience to be able to help out the community in Costa Rica.”