The Bielsa Report is named for manager Marcelo Bielsa, and the comprehensive if legally suspect research he conducts on opposing teams.
Los Cremas are the River Plate of Guatemala
Comunicaciones FC are one of the two giants of Guatemalan football, with 30 national championships and another 18 cups on top of that—crosstown rivals Municipal have won the title 31 times. Comunicaciones are currently in third place in Liga Nacional de Guatemala with 18 points and 23 goals scored after 10 games; they last won a national title in 2015.
Comunicaciones qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League by winning the 2021 CONCACAF League, which they did emphatically: Eight wins, one draw, one loss, and 21 goals scored.
The team is stacked with Internationals
Comunicaciones counts 13 internationals in the squad, including 11 players for the Guatemala national football team. Guatemala failed to get out of the group stage for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification for CONCACAF despite being tied for first place in Group C and not giving up a single goal in the tournament: Curaçao, which scored 15 goals and allowed one, advanced over Guatemala, which scored 14 goals and allowed none.
The players on Los Cremas have a history of stepping up and performing in high-stakes international knockout tournaments.
Rested and ready
While NYCFC will be playing on short rest, Comunicaciones will be rested and ready. The team successfully lobbied the Liga Nacional de Guatemala to reschedule their league game this past weekend so that they could travel to the United States on Saturday.
While New York City FC were boarding a redeye charter after playing the Vancouver Whitecaps to a 0-0 draw, Comunicaciones were getting a proper night’s sleep before a comfortable day of training at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT.
Some Comunicaciones players didn’t travel with the squad. According to ESPN Deportes, attacker José Ayoví isn’t with the club because of personal reasons, Cuban international Karel Espino wasn’t allowed to enter the United States, Stheven Robles is serving a suspension due to his 16th-minute red card earned against the Colorado Rapids, and striker Lynner García’s COVID vaccine doesn’t allow him to enter the United States.
Key players who will be in the lineup include Oscar Santis, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder and Guatemala international with three goals so far this season, Nicolás Samayoa the 26-year-old defender and Guatemala international who also has three goals so far this season, and Kevin Moscoso, the 27-year-old goalkeeper whose clutch saves against Colorado kept Comunicaciones in the game despite playing a man down for most of the match – and playing in a ridiculous snowstorm – to say nothing of the three penalties he stopped in the marathon shootout that decided the contest.
What’s in a name
While the organization dates to the 1920s, the club took the name Comunicaciones in 1949 after Colonel Carlos Aldana Sandoval, the minister of telecommunications, became president. The traditional all-white kit earned them the nickname Los Cremas, and it eventually led to the adoption of Gasparín as the team mascot—or Casper the Friendly Ghost, as he’s known in the United States.
Expect to see some friendly ghosts in the stands on Tuesday.