CD Olimpia vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
2015-16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League
October 22 | 10 pm ET | Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino
TV: To be determined
It's safe to say that Thursday night's CONCACAF Champions League match in Honduras has become a giant pain for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
With Seattle having already wrapped up CCL Group F and qualified for the knockout round, this match is pretty meaningless for both sides and comes at the worst possible time for Vancouver, as they prepare for Sunday's Decision Day showdown against the Houston Dynamo (7 pm ET; TSN2 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US), with a home playoff game on the line.
The long and arduous trip to Tegucigalpa began for Vancouver on Tuesday – and coincidentally, included an overnight stay in Houston. They will return to British Columbia late on Friday night and will be hoping to come through the match relatively unscathed and without adding to their growing injury crisis.
WHOEVER IS NOT INJURED, PLEASE STAND UP
Vancouver's list of injured players keeps stacking up and Carl Robinson will take a threadbare squad of 14 young players to Honduras for the match, with the 'Caps coach admitting, "We know we're the walking wounded."
Robinson said that "everyone that's fit and available to go, will go," and as the Whitecaps injury crisis hits hard, the club petitioned CONCACAF for the ability to bring along some of their USL and Residency players on the trip. The request was turned down, much to Robinson's annoyance.
"I'd like to give more of my USL guys an experience but unfortunately I can't," Robinson said. "Rules are there for a reason and rules are in place, but, for me, when you set rules in place, and you want to do that, what happens when circumstances outside of what we're dealing with at the moment comes in to play?
"There's got to be a little bit of room for maneuver. It's something CONCACAF need to address. I don't think it's happened before, so maybe they'll take a view on it after."
ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE
The game may not have a lot at stake for Vancouver, but the 'Caps are determined to get the maximum benefit from the experience with an eye to next season's campaign. That includes everything from the arduous travel schedule to the gun-toting hotel security to the fierce atmosphere inside the stadium.
"I'm looking forward to the experience these young lads will get," Robinson said. "It's a hostile environment in Olimpia. The experience these boys will get will stand them in a lot better stead for next year, when we're probably in a lot better state to try and have a go in this competition."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DARREN MATTOCKS, VANCOUVER: He's been doing it for Jamaica, but he's not been finding the back of the net for Vancouver – and what the Whitecaps need right now is for one of their forwards to catch fire for the playoffs. With Octavio Rivero out of form and carrying an injury, this game could give Mattocks the chance to show Robinson that he is the player than can carry the 'Caps goalscoring hopes into the postseason.
ALBERTH ELIS, OLIMPIA: The much touted 19-year-old already has two goals against Seattle in this year’s Champions League campaign, including the lone goal in their home win at the end of August. Was contained well in the meeting in Vancouver last month but definitely the dangerman for Olimpia.