SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Marcelo Sarvas knew it was coming, so he couldn't have been surprised to hear the jeers after the LA Galaxy landed Tuesday night in Costa Rica.
A few dozen Herediano fans, starting the dialogue two nights before their team takes on LA in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, targeted the former Alajuelense star as the Galaxy climbed aboard their bus at Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria.
Amid songs extolling their side and lambasting the visitors was one sharply questioning the Brazilian midfielder's manhood.
Earlier, Sarvas said he wasn't sure exactly what to expect.
“I played a final [at Herediano]; I scored a goal in the final,” he said. “I think they don't have good feelings about me. I expect nothing good for me.”
This is nonetheless a happy homecoming for Sarvas, who spent a year and a half with Alajuelense, leading the club to two Costa Rican league titles. He wound up in LA after impressing Galaxy brass with his performance for the Rojinegros in two CCL games against LA in 2011.
“I feel very good [about returning to Costa Rica],” said Sarvas, who made an impression last season for the Galaxy and is paired with fellow Brazilian Juninho in central midfield this year. “It's a county that I like very much, the people. I have many good friends there. So it's good feelings.
He's been able to provide teammates insight on playing Herediano, who sit fifth in the Costa Rican Primera División Verano (or second-half) championship with a 4-3-3 record, ahead of Thursday night's clash at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer).
“They have a big tradition in Costa Rica. They have big fans,” Sarvas explained. “I think it's not about the team, it's about the football in Costa Rica. They play fast, chasing [the] ball. They make things very hard for foreign teams. So it will be very hard.
“It's a small stadium. Artificial turf – it's a good turf, better than [at Alajuelense's Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto]. It's nice. The fans are close to the pitch, they like to press very much, make noise. We have to expect the things that don't happen here in MLS.”
Head coach Bruce Arena offered a reminder of what some of those things can be.
“When we play these games in Central America,” he said, “they're challenging: the travel, the surfaces, the officials, the fans. Everything. It's challenging. It will be a good test for us.”
Said Sarvas: “It's more about the mental, to be prepared for what kind of game we're going to have there. I talk with some players.”