When Minnesota United hosts Deportivo Saprissa in an international friendly on Wednesday, it will be welcoming the most storied club in Costa Rican soccer — and the reigning national champion — to TCF Bank Stadium.
Since breaking into the first division of Costa Rican soccer in 1949, Saprissa has been crowned Liga FPD champion a record 34 times, won the CONCACAF Champions League three times and been the premier breeding ground for young Ticos — including MNUFC defender Francisco Calvo.
Calvo played in Saprissa’s academy from 2005–10 and later joined the first team from 2015–16, scoring 13 goals and providing one assist in 71 appearances before joining the Loons. Calvo has called Saprissa the “biggest academy” and the “biggest team” in Costa Rica and it is easy to see why. “La S” trained over half of the players on Costa Rica’s 2018 World Cup team and that squad boasted three players who currently suit up for the club’s first team.
One of those World Cup players was Loons loanee Johan Venegas. After being loaned out in January, Venegas notched five goals and an assist in 27 appearances for Saprissa and netted the first penalty in the 2018 Clausara final as Saprissa captured league title No. 34. After an even two legs, El Monstruo Morado (“The Purple Monster”) defeated rival Herediano, 4-3, in penalties to capture the most recent summer season championship.
Minneapolis is the second stop on Saprissa’s United States tour. It lost to Columbus Crew, 2-0, on July 3 in its last outing. This is the second time MNUFC will welcome an international side to TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota hosted Liga MX side Atlas last summer and played to a 1-1 draw.
Wednesday’s friendly will kick off at 7:00 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. The match will be streamed live at MNUFC.com. Dating back to its NASL years, Minnesota United is 2-2-2 all-time in midseason international friendlies against the likes of Atlas, Club Leon, A.F.C. Bournemouth, Swansea City and Mexico’s U21 team.
D – Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg injury)
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)
D – Marc Burch (left knee injury)
F – Abu Danladi (left leg injury)