VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps usually don’t have much trouble scouting their opposition, but they had to do some extra homework to get ready for Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League game against Honduran side C.D. Olimpia.
Playing in Major League Soccer, the Whitecaps have ample access to video and scouting reports on most of their opponents and they can draw from their experiences in previous games. But limited video was available from Honduras.
“I’d be lying if I said that (it’s easy scouting C.D. Olimpia),” said Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson. “It’s difficult. Obviously, we’ve seen them play against Seattle twice (in CONCACAF Champions League), and to have any contacts down in Honduras, which we do, is very helpful.”
The Whitecaps hope the extra homework pays off with the maximum three points in their last Group F game at home before they head into hostile environments in Seattle next week and C.D. Olimpia’s home of Tegucigalpa in October.
“We’ve watched them in-depth,” said Robinson. “Daniel (Stenz, the club’s head of analysis and scouting) does a great job in relation with that with (assistant coaches) Martin Pyrt and Gordon (Forrest). So we know what they’re about – tough team, very physical, a very good team.”
Only the top Group F team will advance to next year’s CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage, which is part of qualifying for the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup. The Caps have one point thus far after earning a home draw with the Sounders (1-1-1), who sit first in the group with four points. Robinson wants his players to keep their emotions in check Wednesday after C.D. Olimpia and the Sounders got into an altercation at the end of their first game in Seattle, when the Sounder prevailed 2-1 on a late penalty-kick. Things got feisty again when the sides met in Tegucigalpa, where the hosts prevailed 1-0.
Whitecaps central defender Kendall Waston, a Costa Rican who has played against Honduran teams in the past, indicated he expects some diving — which he considers “part of the game” — from C.D. Olimpia. But he wants his squad to focus on its own play while preventing the Hondurans from playing their usual style of crossing the ball from the wing into the box.
“It’s more patient than our game,” said Waston. “It doesn’t go so quickly forward. Sometimes, they like to play a lot (more) direct, to look (for) the central forward. Sometimes they mix it up, playing wide, because they have very quick players to the side. Sometimes they hold (the ball) for so long. Obviously, if you give them space and time, they[re going to do it. But we know what their strength is: Play wide with the quick players and try to look (for) crosses (to) the big (striker).”
Waston and his back line mates will be on the lookout for 19-year-old striker Alberth Elis, who scored in C.D. Olimpia’s win over Seattle. Everton of the English Premier League and Football League Championship side Cardiff City have shown interest in acquiring Elis, who has made three appearances for the Honduran national team. Whitecaps backup goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi will get the nod to stop his shots as Robinson, with his team vying for first overall in MLS, gives starter David Ousted a rest.
“We know that it’s a huge game for us, (the) last game we are gonna play at home in CONCACAF (group play), so we have to play for (three) points, for sure,” said Tornaghi.
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press