The Portland Timbers host Honduran side CD Olimpia in the first ever CONCACAF Champions League game played at Providence Park. Olimpia currently leads group 5 on six points, but Portland follows close behind with a game in hand. The third team in the group, Alpha United, is already eliminated from the group stage having lost all three games they've played thus far.
The Timbers enjoyed a fairly comfortable win during their last CCL match, which also happened to be the very first in club history in the competition. The Timbers flew a select roster down to Guyana and emerged with three points from a 4-1 victory over Alpha United on a beaten up cricket pitch.
Steve Zakuani opened the scoring in the 18th minute, and Maxi Urruti tallied on a second just 16 minutes later. The Timbers defense, which looked sharp, couldn't keep out a Barbosa Murilo ball which found the back of the net just before half. Portland's confidence wouldn't be shaken however, as tacked on two more goals in the second half to secure their first ever CCL win. Look the highlights of that game below.
Now it's the Timbers turn to host a CONCACAF Champions League game. Providence Park is sure to be lively for the marquee matchup of group 5. The Timbers aren't desperate for a win just yet, but they do have a tough task ahead to ensure they advance out of the group stage. The first tiebreaker is the greater number of points earned in matches between the teams concerned. The second tiebreaker is goal differential in matches between the teams concerned. And as always, teams will put added emphasis on conceding as few goals at home as possible.
The Timbers currently have a plus-3 goal differential which is only good for second to Olimpia's plus-7. Luckily for the Timbers they have yet to host Alpha United in Portland, a match that could easily eliminate that goal differential. Fortunately, overall goal differential doesn't play too significantly into deciding the tiebreaker.
If Caleb Porter wants to be successful in the Champions League, he'll have to fix a defense that has been mediocre at best in the MLS regular season. That's easier said than done considering the fact that the Timbers are on the verge of missing the playoffs, and coach Porter has stated his priority is making the post-season. That means (mostly) second-choice lineups for CCL games. Expect Rauwshan McKenzie and backup keeper Andrew Weber to get starts against Olimpia. Both started in the last CCL match.
CD Olimpia rocketed to the top of the group after thrashing Alpha United at home in their last match with a score of 6-0. Fredixon Elvir celebrated a hat trick, while fellow forward Anthony Lozano scored two goals to help bring Olimpia's total to seven goals so far in the competition; good enough to be tied for second place in the tournament with Club America.
Through two games, CD Olimpia has yet to concede a goal. Olimpia has only played Alpha United in a home and away series, but has the goal differential cushion they need to compete for the top spot in group 5. Olimpia also boasts the best goal differential in the Honduras Primera Division.
The Honduran side will be able to leave Portland happy if they can manage a draw. Assuming Portland get all three points from their second match with Alpha United, the final game of the group will be in Francisco Morazán, home of the most successful team in Honduran history.
The Portland Timbers will face their first real test in the CONCACAF Champions League when they take on CD Olimpia this Tuesday, but will have their own Timbers Army to urge them on. Three points is the goal for Caleb Porter who certainly wants to impress in the club's first ever run in the competition. Anything less will have Portland chasing Olimpia for group 5 supremacy and leaving their fate to a game in notorious Central America where the Timbers could see their CCL dreams come to a screeching halt.