VANCOUVER, BC – So who are these Olimpia guys anyway?
You’re forgiven if that’s something you’ve been wondering ahead of Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s CONCACAF Champions League fixture with C.D. Olimpia on Wednesday night at BC Place (7 p.m. PT kickoff – tickets still available).
After all, this will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
So we know Olimpia are the reigning Honduran champions. We also know they’re the most successful club in Honduran soccer history, having won a whopping 29 domestic titles.
But we want to know more – and we figured you might too.
That’s why we went out and sought the expertise of Jon Arnold, a CONCACAF columnist for Goal.com. Arnold gets us set for Wednesday’s match through the Q&A below.
How would you describe Olimpia’s style of play?
Ellis opens the scoring vs. Seattle on on August 19
JA: How they play in the CCL (when they usually have a roster made up of much cheaper and less experienced players) generally differs from what they do in the league (when they generally have the highest-salaried roster and the most talented team).
Sometimes, it's too easy to paint a Central American team with the “CONCACAF brush” and assume they're going to come in, bunker, foul when necessary and try to grind out a result. With that said, it's a label Olimpia has long deserved.
Take a look at their match against the Sounders in Tegucigalpa and you see a team that was more willing to take risks and get forward – they actually won the possession battle – but even then the team was generally cautious overall, packing the box when the Sounders won possession.
Who are a few players to watch?
JA: Olimpia has pretty much every one of Honduras' hope for the future of strikers, though they're all yet to really produce. Alberth Elis, a 19-year-old centre forward, is lanky but quick while Roger Rojas is back from stints in Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
Romell Quioto also is a threat and leads the team in league scoring with three goals through seven matches (the Lions have three wins and four losses entering this tie). Olimpia has suffered from some of the same scoring issues the Honduran national team has and will hope to generate some sort of attacking threat Wednesday.
The goalkeeper situation is also interesting, with two of the country's best splitting time as they have been for years. Both Donis Escober and Noel Valladares are top class and continually vie for the No. 1 shirt.
How do you feel they match up against Whitecaps FC tactically?
JA: I think you have to give the 'Caps the advantage in most areas, though centre backs Johnny Palacios and Fabio de Souza are just as bruising as MLS centre backs. Both can be set-piece threats going forward as well, and fouls will be key in this match. Guys like Octavio Rivero and Mauro Rosales have seen it before, but that's the key battle for me.
Follow Jon Arnold on Twitter at @ArnoldcommaJon.
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