• Wednesday Jan 03, 2018

    SCCL View: Olimpia

    Olimpia players (pictured) celebrate after overcoming Santos de Guapiles in the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League final. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

    In the fifteenth of a series of articles taking a closer look at each of the 16 teams in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL), CONCACAF.com goes in-depth on Olimpia.

    OLIMPIA/HONDURAS

    By The Numbers
    2017 Apertura Record: W9 D6 L3 GF31 GA21
    Final Position (Regular Season): 3rd Place
    Final Position (Playoffs): Semifinals
    Playoff Results: Playoff for Semifinal Berth (agg: 4-2 v UPNFM); Semifinals (agg: 3-3 v Motagua, Motagua advanced by virtue of having a better regular-season record)
    Top Scorer (Regular Season): Roger Rojas, 7 goals

    Season Summary
    Led by the league’s best defense, Olimpia finished just three points behind regular-season winner Marathon to finish third in the 2017 Apertura. The Leones overcame UPNFM (agg: 4-2) in a playoff for a berth in the semifinals. In the final-four series with Motagua, Olimpia won the first leg, 2-0 (Javier Estupiñan 80’; Alexander Lopez 90’+4), and was ahead in the second leg, 1-0 (Brayan Mora 4’), when Motagua stormed back for three unanswered goals to level the aggregate score at 3-3, advancing due to a better regular-season record.

    In order to qualify for the 2018 SCCL, though, Olimpia captured the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League (SCL) title. The Leones prevailed over Santos de Guapiles in the two-legged final, 4-1 on penalty kicks, after the series ended 1-1 on aggregate. Michael Chirinos scored the second leg’s only goal in the first half, giving the Honduran power a 1-0 win. In eight SCL outings, Olimpia posted an overall record of 5W-1D-2L, scoring 15 goals and conceding five (allowing one goal or fewer in each outing). It also captured three key individual awards: Golden Ball (Michael Chirinos), Golden Boot (Roger Rojas, 5 goals) and Best Young Player (Kevin Alvarez).

    Season Highlight
    Olimpia enjoyed arguably its best victory of the season on October 22, earning a 3-0 win over eventual-champion Real España. Jorge Benguche (21’) and Kevin Alvarez (28’) struck seven minutes apart in the first half, while Roger Rojas (90’+4) netted in second-half stoppage time.

    Key Player: Johnny Palacios
    The veteran defender, who has made 41 appearances for Honduras, has been a mainstay in the Olimpia lineup for more than a decade. It is the only club the 31-year-old has played for professionally.

    Player to Watch in 2018: Kevin Alvarez
    The 21-year-old Honduran international defender, who scored once during the season, was a regular starter in Olimpia’s rock-solid backline, appearing in all 16 matches.

    Fabulous Facts
    Olimpia was far and away the most defensively sound team in the Apertura regular season, conceding just 15 goals in 18 matches for a league-best +12 goal differential. It was the least goals against in the league since the Leones allowed 13 goals in the 2016 Clausura.

    SCCL Round of 16 Outlook
    Olimpia is the only team to qualify for each of the 10 SCCL editions, advancing as far as the quarterfinals twice. In order to reach that stage for a third time, the Leones will open 2018 play in the Round of 16 against the New York Red Bulls (1st leg: February 22, home; 2nd leg: March 1, away). Olimpia is 2W-3D-3L all-time against teams from the USA in SCCL play.

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