PORTLAND, Ore. - With the Portland Timbers set to host their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday night against Honduran-side CD Olimpia (7pm PT, FOX Sports 1, TICKETS), there is a sense of unique excitement surrounding the game.

“This is a real honor and it’s a privilege to have earned the right to be here,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said to reporters Monday. “It’s great for our fans. It’s great for our players. It’s a good experience for our club. We’ll only benefit from it. Moving forward, these are experiences that will make our club stronger and better.”

After a long trip to South America in August where Portland beat Guyana’s Alpha United FC 4-1 in its first-ever group stage CCL match, the Timbers now find themselves second in the group heading into tonight’s game against Olimpia. Similar to Alpha, Los Leones present a team that Portland fans may not be very familiar with. Founded in 1912, Olimpia is one of the most decorated teams in Central America with over a century’s worth of history. Their roster includes a number of players who were part of Honduras’ team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.



But Porter and his staff have been working hard to prepare his side using advance scouting and knowledge of Olimpia’s recently started domestic campaign.

“We gave them a good sense of what they’ve been doing system-wise, who they’ve been playing overall, their team, the club,” Porter said of his team’s preparation for their Honduran opponent. “They’re a good team, obviously. They won the league last year.”

Even with that, Porter knows that there will be some unfamiliarity with the opponent given that it is not a team the Timbers face week-in and week-out. He spoke of how his squad will have to make adjustments depending on how Olimpia approaches the game along with Portland’s own aims.

Team captain Will Johnson also believes that unfamiliarity can work both ways.

“There’s the obvious things of unknown’s—not playing against these guys every week—but that can be good because you can catch them by surprise,” said Johnson. “They don’t know us equally as well.”



With Alpha United having already lost three of their four CCL matches, the battle for top spot to advance out of the group will come down to the Timbers and Olimpia. Should Portland take the full three points Tuesday night and then win next Tuesday against Alpha at home (7pm PT, FOX Sports 1, TICKETS), they would be in very good position heading into the final group-stage game in Honduras in October. 


Moreover, with home-field advantage in the Timbers favor Tuesday, the team will look to take the game to Olimpia at Providence Park.

"Even though they’re a very good team, we expect to be the aggressor," said Porter. "They’ll be okay with getting a draw because they can go back and get a win and get through. We need to make sure we get three points.”

As no MLS team has won the CCL in its current format, the impetus to win the group and set the team up for a good quarterfinal seeding is all part of the bigger picture. For Johnson though, that’s all secondary to getting a win at Providence Park.

“Down the road there’s an opportunity to make history and that starts with a win [Tuesday],” he said. “For me, it’s a massive game and it’s a must win.”