CD Olimpia vs. Sporting Kansas City | CONCACAF Champions League Preview

CD Olimpia vs. Sporting Kansas City, August 27, 2013

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Mexsport, USA Today sports

CD OLIMPIA vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
ESTADIO TIBURCIO CARIAS ANDINO, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
August 27, 2013 (CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage)
10 pm ET (FOX Soccer Plus)

Sporting Kansas City hit the road for their second CONCACAF Champions League group stage match, facing CD Olimpia of Honduras at Estadio Nacional on Tuesday. The game will air live on FOX Soccer Plus at 10 pm ET or can be streamed online with FOX Soccer 2Go (currently offering a two-week free trial for new users).

Sporting KC are currently tied for first place in their group with Olimpia after defeating Real Esteli, 2-0, on August 7. Ike Opara and Dom Dwyer provided the goals in Kansas City's first road win in an international competition since 2002. Sporting flew into San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Monday and are traveling more than three hours south by bus to reach the team’s destination in Tegucigalpa.

Olimpia enter the match following their 1-0 road win over Real Esteli on August 21. The 27-time Honduran first-division champions are one of two teams in CONCACAF (along with El Salvador's lsidro Metapan) to participate in all six editions of the CONCACAF Champions League since 2008-09, reaching the quarterfinals during the 2010-11 tournament. The Lions have represented Honduras extensively in international competition, winning the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 1972 and 1988 while finishing runners-up in 1985 and 2000.

The team reached the quarterfinals during the 2010-11 edition, their best finish under the new format, and are now 10-5-8 all-time in CCL competition with 35 goals for and 26 goals against. Olimpia are unbeaten in five of their last six CCL matches (3-1-2), which includes a pair of 1-1 draws against the Houston Dynamo in last year’s tournament.

Olimpia share Estadio Nacional with rivals CD Motagua, who they will face on Sunday in the Clasico Capitalino. The venue, built in 1948, boasts a capacity of 35,000 and features a grass playing surface at 3,100 feet above sea level. 

Sporting Kansas City qualified for the 2013-14 CCL after winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a penalty kick shootout in August 2012 to mark their first appearance in the competition since 2005.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin each have extensive experience against international competition, having started eight and 13 matches, respectively, as players for the club. Zavagnin, has either played (14) or served on the technical staff (4) for every competitive international match in club history.

Vermes is also familiar with Tuesday's venue, having started a World Cup qualifier in that stadium for the US men's national team in 1989. Vermes played 80 minutes and set up the game's lone goal as the USMNT defeated El Salvador, 1-0.

The 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League format consists of 24 teams separated into eight groups of three teams that play a round-robin, home-and-away schedule. The winner of each group will advance to the quarterfinals.

Sporting KC will host their final Champions League group stage matches at Sporting Park against Real Esteli on September 17 and Olimpia on October 23.

Sporting Kansas City defender Mechack Jerome and forward Soony Saad each received cautions in the team’s opening CONCACAF Champions League match. Should either player receive a yellow card during the remaining group stage games, then the player must serve a mandatory one-game suspension for caution accumulation.

Tuesday’s match will be Sporting Kansas City’s third consecutive game on the road, the longest road swing of the season, and ends a span that saw the club play seven of ten games away from home dating back to July 7. Over that span, the team has logged more than 16,000 miles round-trip between destinations and will have played in four different countries in one month (July 27 - Aug. 27).

Tuesday could be a key match in determining which team advances to the knockout stage. A draw or win for Sporting KC will keep them on top of Group 2 with the final two group stage matches at Sporting Park.

Olimpia News

It's early in the season for Olimpia so there are few injury concerns. The main team news has been the announcement of two players leaving to join other teams. The first is Alexander Lopez, who joined the Houston Dynamo as a Young Designated Player earlier this month, and striker Roger Rojas, who is joining English Premier League side West Ham United on loan. The 23-year-old was Liga Nacional’s leading scorer last year with 20 goals and had scored three times this season for Olimpia. 

Olimpia earned a 1-0 win against Real Esteli FC in Esteli, Nicaragua last Wednesday to pull even with Sporting atop Group 2 on three points. Midfielder Bayron Mendez scored the game’s lone goal in the opening minute of the second half and goalkeeper Noel Valladares recorded the shutout.

Olimpia were without defender Brayan Beckles -- who served his one-game suspension stemming from CD Olimpia’s CCL finale a year ago -- and improved to 3-2-1 in CCL openers. With the win, the Lions snapped a four-game winless streak on the road in CCL competition and are now .500 away from home in CCL matches with a 3-3-6 record. XI: Valladares, Henry Bermúdez, Nery Medina, Hendry Córdova, Javier Portillo, Reinaldo Tilguath (Irving Reyna 62), Israel Fonseca, Bayron Méndez, Carlos Will Mejía, Douglas Caetano (Rigoberto Padilla 75) Ramiro Bruschi (Roger Rojas 77)

Olimpia made several changes to the squad from last week’s CCL victory in Nicaragua to Saturday’s 1-0 league win over Parrillas One. Cordova, Tilguath, Mendez, Caetano, Padilla and Bruschi all saw minutes against Real Esteli but did not feature on Saturday in Tela, Honduras.

Starting XI: Noel Valladares, Henry Bermúdez, Bryan Beckeles, Israel Fonseca, José Escalante (Erick Andino 90), Javier Portillo, Mariano Acevedo (Nery Medina 40), Irvin Reyna, Luis Garrido, Anthony Lozano y Roger Rojas (Carlos Will Mejía 75)

Recent Form/Results

Olimpia are in a busy stretch of their season with Tuesday's match to be their sixth in a 17-day span. The team kicked off the 2013 Apertura season on August 11th and have a 2-1-1 record in league play.

They recently faced Real Esteli in CCL play and won that match 1-0 (Sporting KC won 2-0 in early August). Overall, Olimpia have been dominant at home in the CONCACAF Champions League with 7-2-2 record in 11 matches.

On Sunday, Olimpia had five players named to the Honduras National Team roster for two upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Noel Valladares, Donis Escober, Bryan Beckel, Nery Medina and Luis Garrido were selected for matches against Mexico (Sept. 6) and Panama (Sept. 10). Honduras currently sits in fourth place in the Hexagonal Round with four games remaining on the road to Brazil.

Los Catrachos qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, reaching the game’s biggest stage for the second time in the nation’s history and first time since 1982. Valladares started all three games in the group stage and captained his country in a 0-0 draw against Switzerland for Honduras’ first-ever shutout in a World Cup match. Valladares, 36, and Garrido started for Honduras in their 2-1 victory over the United States in FIFA World Cup Qualifying in February – the US national team’s lone loss in the Hexagonal to date.

Key Players

Anthony Lozano (Forward) -- Has scored two goals this season including the game-winner vs Parillas One on Sunday

Noel Valladares (Goalkeeper) -- An experienced player who has over a 100 caps with the Honduran National Team