As the Seattle Sounders travel down to Honduras for their last long road trip of the year, they have one focus - win and turn the final game of the group stage into meaningless affair. They'll be doing it on familiar grounds against a fairly familiar opponent, Marathon of Honduras. In league play they sit at 8 points in 9 played, while in the CONCACAF Champions League they are drew nil-nil at Caledonia. There struggles were enough that they brought back their previous coach.
"We’re familiar with the stadium and the city and so forth because we’ve been there before. We’ve seen their game with Caledonia—the team saw a lot of the highlights from that before we played Caledonia the last time. We’ve got about four games on tape that we’re looking at right now, so we’ll give them more information," Sigi said after Monday's practice. "They’ve got a good wide left midfielder, they’ve got a good central midfielder, they play through a lot. They have a couple of strong forwards—not necessarily big, but really robust, strong type guys. They’re a good, solid team. The coach is the same coach they had in 2010. He was gone for the beginning of last year, but then came back, so they’re pretty similar in their playing style."
Several Sounders will not be making the trip. New signing Marcus Hahnemann needs to build up fitness and game shape, while DPs Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert are still recovering from the injuries that kept them out of the Timbers game. David Estrada will also stay back.
Seattle will instead lean heavily on players like Eddie Johnson, who can't play against San Jose due to accumulation, and non-league standouts like Sammy Ochoa (5 goals and an assist), Osvaldo Alonso (4/2) and Andy Rose (3/3).
On the last trip to Marathon Patrick Ianni did not play, but he did learn a bit about their style and the field. "They had a ton of energy down at their place, a lot of fast players out wide, and it was a tough game," Ianni remembered. "I expect it to be a battle, I think if we go in with that mentality we'll be all right, always expect a battle, if it becomes easier, great, but don’t go in there thinking its going to be easy, then it turns out to be a battle and mentally you're not prepared for it, so that's the only thing, we've just got to be mentally prepared to battle and we'll be good."
He also noted the track around the field, the crab grass and one his personal highlights - the fruit in Central America. If the Sounders win and put this competition out of the way, the return leg could be an opportunity for players like Estrada and Hahnemann to show the local faithful exactly what they can do.
"A win would put it to rest, which is what we want to do, so that game [final game of Group Stage] won't mean anything and we can just focus on MLS Cup when we get back." Patrick Ianni's focus is the team's focus.