Coming into Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League clash with Club Olimpia in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid knew that getting a result would be a tall order.
The Sounders have a huge MLS rivalry matchup with the Portland Timbers on the horizon this weekend and are in the heat of a tightly contested battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Many of their regular key contributors rested up accordingly and didn’t even make the trip to Tegucigalpa.
This meant for the second week in a row, Schmid was forced to rely on a lineup laced with youth and inexperience to try and find points in CCL play. This time, they couldn’t quite pull it off, as the Sounders fell 1-0 to Olimpia to remain at four points in Group F.
“I think from the very beginning everybody knew it was going to be a difficult game,” rookie midfielder Cristian Roldan said afterward. “Especially on the road against a quality team.”
Considering those circumstances, Schmid said he was pleased with the mental fortitude displayed by some of his young players to keep the game as close and competitive as they did.
“We obviously couldn’t bring along a lot of our top players,” Schmid said. “I thought for a very young group to come into this game and to make it a very difficult game for Olimpia, I think shows a lot of things for our future because [we fielded] a very, very young team with the exception of maybe three players out on the field for us today.”
Last week, fielding the exact same starting XI, Seattle did pull it off, nabbing an improbable come-from-behind 2-1 victory on a last-minute Brad Evans penalty kick.
However, Schmid said the added obstacle of making the lengthy trip to Honduras, combined with the lack of depth from all the roster absences made the task of duplicating that feat even more of a challenge.
“Obviously, playing here is more difficult because you’re traveling and everything else,” Schmid said. “We were able to use a couple of our more experienced players at the home game who we couldn’t bring for this game. For us, this was definitely a more complicated game.”
Seattle now have a bit of a break from CCL play until they meet the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sept. 23. The Sounders will be the home side for that matchup after pulling out a 1-1 draw against the Whitecaps at BC Place back on Aug. 5.
“I think when we play Vancouver, we’ll actually have a lot more rest and we’ll have a lot more guys back,” said goalkeeper Troy Perkins. “That’s a chance to really take it to them and put our stamp on that time of year as well as moving forward into the playoffs.”