The Sounders have survived the first test of the trip to Honduras -- surviving the often-harrowing landing into Toncontin International Airport. Their next challenge is what projects as a rugged match against CD Olimpia, which is fighting for its CCL life.
Seattle (1-0-1) will remain atop Group F even without a result in their 7 p.m. Saturday match. And that may be reflected in the mostly reserve lineup coach Sigi Schmid is expected to choose. However, Olimpia is mathematically eliminated with a loss.
Add in the hard feelings that developed at the end of the Sounders 2-1 home win against Olimpia, and you have the makings of what could be a very intense and phusical match Wednesday in Honduras.
Some Sounders discuss that possibility below:
Coach Sigi Schmid:
On Olimpia) Obviously they’re going to be very aggressive as well. We’ve got to be prepared for that. They rested pretty much their first-team guys this weekend, so they want to get their three points at home. We’ve got to defend with good quality and look for our chances on the counter.
On the hard feelings from Game 1) It will probably add a little spice to the game than would have been – probably gets their crowd into it. Probably even helps their attendance for the game just the way the last game ended.
On leading Group F) There’s no breathing room, obviously. And the way the schedule is with us, playing them now and being three games in and not knowing how they and Vancouver are going to do impacts things. But either way – no matter what happens in this game Wednesday – it’s going to come down to our last game with Vancouver is going to be very important.
Midfielder Aaron Kovar
On the timing of the match, four days before a crucial MLS visit from Portland) It’s not maybe the most ideal timing, but it is what it is, and we have a really deep squad, and I think that’s one thing this team has really prided itself on is having not just 1-to-18, but all the way having almost a whole second lineup that’s really quality players. It’s a good opportunity for us to show that.
On the game atmosphere) They’re going to come out flying for sure. It’s kind of one of those cool adventures that I think most of the guys on the team are looking forward to. … I’m sure it’s going to be tight, it’s going to be a really difficult match. They’re going to have a lot of support, but I think we just stick to the game plan, work as a group, and I think we’ll be all right.
Midfielder Gonzalo Pineda, who has played in Honduras as a member of the Mexican national team)
On resting key starters for Portland) I think that for this group that will play this game, for us it is a great opportunity that will show the coach that we are ready and that we can be prepared for any time. I don’t think that we are thinking right now about the game with Portland: We are thinking about this game in Honduras, because also the Champions League is very important for the team and what is going on in the next year. So for us it is a great opportunity to show ourselves and to stand there and bring back the three points. That’s the main thing. After that we will think in Portland, but right now all that matter is this game in Honduras.
On the first Olimpia match) We expect almost the same: a little battle there. We know that they are a fighty team, and we have to be ready because this time they will be at home and it can be a little different. They will try to put pressure on us and they will try to not let us play a little bit – a lot of fouls. So we need to be prepared of that. The referee will never be probably fair, and we have to be prepared for that. ... I know how Latin American teams, we think. I think that they will be a little fighy, more aggressive, even in the field and off the field. I think they will try to put pressure even from the fans. That’s a good scenario for us. We want to play those types of games. That’s good for me.
On playing in Honduras) They are a little aggressive. We have a big rivalry with Honduras with Mexico, so it was a great atmosphere with a lot of people screaming at us and yelling. It’s part of the show, and we are prepared for that. We are pros, so that does not affect our play inside the field.
On being a veteran player among young Sounders) We have to just play soccer. All you have to do is just try the best way your team can win. So if I have to fight a little bit, I will – but always trying to keep myself calm, no silly fouls, no yellow cards, no red cards. I will try to be calm, but still I will be there to defend my teammates, and every time if I have to play a little harder, I will. ... At the end of the day it is just soccer. The atmosphere and everything to me is something that when the referee says the game is on, then you don’t have to hear anything, you just have to play soccer and that’s it. The idea that we train every day to play soccer, and that’s the main thing.
On if speaking Spanish will be useful) Yes, a little bit. I can have a better communication even with the referee or the other team, but still that’s not important. All that matters is how we react to their pressure, how we react to their idea of playing this game, which we know for sure will be very aggressive. That’s the important thing: how do we react as a team to their style.