A new opponent has entered the arena.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC host reigning Honduran champions C.D. Olimpia on Wednesday night at BC Place in the club’s second of four CONCACAF Champions League fixtures.
Match Day: Wednesday, September 16
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Venue: BC Place
TV: Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet World
Radio: TSN 1410
A win on Wednesday would move Whitecaps FC into a tie with Seattle for the top spot in the group, setting up a massive meeting between the Cascadia rivals next week (click here to see the different scenarios depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s match).
“It’s a game we need to win,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said. “We know that. Make no bones about it. We’ll go out to try and win the game. But it’s not going to be easy. We saw last week against Colorado at home. It’s not easy.”
Robinson confirmed that goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, who started Vancouver’s CCL opening draw with Seattle, would play on Wednesday. Midfielder Matias Laba, who is suspended for Saturday’s MLS fixture vs. Seattle Sounders FC, is also expected to be involved.
In MLS play, the ‘Caps sit atop the MLS table with six games to go.
This is Olimpia’s eighth consecutive CCL appearance. They are the only club in CONCACAF to have qualified for every CCL in its current format since the first one back in 2008-09. Last season, Olimpia beat out Portland Timbers in the group stage of the tournament.
They are also the reigning Honduran champions. Olimpia started slowly in league play this season, but have now won three of their last four matches.
“I think they’re arguably the best team in Honduras,” Robinson said. “They’ve got a tough mentality. That’s one thing you can say about the Honduran teams. We’ve got to be able to match that and obviously play our football at the same time.”
On that note, Robinson said he’d warn his group about getting too involved with any of Olimpia’s antics – something Kendall Waston discussed as well.
“The only thing that matters is if you win,” Waston said. “I really don’t care about all that. They’re going to try to intimidate or try to talk and talk and talk … you just have to be focused.”
One Olimpia player to watch is 19-year-old striker Alberth Elis, who scored in each of the club’s meetings with Seattle.
The CONCACAF Champions League is composed of 24 of the top teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, including five from MLS. In order to qualify for the tournament, a club needs to either win a title or prove it’s the best team in its country over the course of a season – the qualification process varies from country to country.
The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League advances to the annual FIFA Club World Cup, where they compete against the top teams from Asia, Africa, South America, Oceana, and Europe. Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid are the reigning Club World Cup champions.
No MLS team has ever won the Champions League under the current format, but two have made it to the final: Real Salt Lake in 2010-11 and Montreal Impact in the most recent edition of the tournament.