The CONCACAF Champions League, unlike its UEFA counterpart, doesn't have the luxury of many big-name clubs. Although that may disappoint more casual fans, it gives enthusiasts an opportunity to familiarize themselves with relatively unknown foreign teams. For Whitecaps FC fans, CD Olimpia presents exactly that sort of opportunity.
Established as a baseball club in 1912, and then as a football team in 1917, CD Olimpia Tegucigalpa could almost be considered ancient in comparison to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Honduran outfit has a vast number of trophies under its belt, with 2 CONCACAF Champions Cups (1972, 1988), 29 National Championships, and numerous other qualifications and other achievements.
Notable former players include Boniek Garcia and Alex Lopez, both currently with the Houston Dynamo, and the Palacios brothers, only one of which (Johnny) is still with the club.
So far in this year's Champions League, CD Olimpia have lost 2-1 away to the Seattle Sounders and won 1-0 against the Sounders at home in Tegucigalpa.
The team relies heavily on Alberth Elis, who has scored both of the team's goals in this competition and was linked with Everton FC and Cardiff City over the summer. Goalkeeper Donis Escobar has also shown well, making a number of critical stops in Olimpia's first game against Seattle and then keeping a clean sheet for the second encounter.
Carl Robinson has admitted that scouting CD Olimpia has been a tougher task than usual, but thanks to contacts in Honduras, he "knows what they're about."
Robbo gave out little information on the Whitecaps potential starting XI beyond the starting goalkeeper in Paolo Tornaghi, but he did have some interesting comments on Vancouver's chances for tournament success.
"Whether we're quite ready this year is still up for debate. Are we strong enough squad-wise to go for it this year? It's going to be highly unlikely, or highly doubtful. Could we win it? Yes, there's always a chance, but we're still building here."
With a response like that, it seems inevitable that we'll see another reserve-heavy lineup similar to the one that played a stinker of a match against Seattle on August 4th. Despite the club rallying around the "must-win" sentiment for this particular match, it seems that the final stretch of the MLS season will take priority.
What are your views on the match? Will the Hondurans open up the game with their speedy wingers (possibly), or will they slow down the game and roll around the pitch, winning questionable fouls and frustrating fans and players alike (probably)? Let us know in the comments.