Sounders want to wrap up CONCACAF group stage in Honduras
Sounders FC can clinch advancement to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a road win in the group stage Wednesday against CD Marathon of Honduras.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Marathon of Honduras, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel
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TUKWILA — End it early.
That is Sounders FC's aim heading into its third of four group-stage games in the CONCACAF Champions League. Thanks to a perfect start, Seattle can clinch advancement into the quarterfinals with a road win at 7 p.m. Wednesday against CD Marathon of Honduras.
"We want to finish this thing off so the (group-stage finale) when we come back here ... doesn't matter," said defender Patrick Ianni. "Definitely a tie would be good; a win would put it to rest, which is what we want to do so we can just focus on MLS Cup when we get back."
The Sounders lead Group 4 with a 2-0 record. Marathon is 0-0-1 and wouldn't be able to catch up with a loss. The only other team in the group, Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago, has already been eliminated from advancement at 0-2-1.
A Seattle tie Wednesday would require at least another tie in the final group game Oct. 24 against Marathon to clinch advancement. The Honduran club hosts Caledonia in the other group game on Sept. 26.
The Sounders' focus, however, has to span beyond just one competition.
"If we could clinch the (CCL) group, that's something we want to do," said coach Sigi Schmid, "but we also want to keep our eye on the (MLS) game on Saturday and make sure that we're ready for that one, as well."
Saturday's showdown is against league-leading San Jose, and a Sounders win would clinch a fourth straight playoff berth. Perhaps most important, Seattle has to beat the Earthquakes to realistically have a shot in the Supporters' Shield race and improve its odds of qualifying for the 2013-14 CCL.
Midfielders Mauro Rosales (quadriceps) and Christian Tiffert (ankle) didn't make the trip to Honduras despite being in the final stages of recovery, to ensure their availability Saturday.
Seattle did travel with forward Eddie Johnson, who will be suspended for the San Jose game, and a few other starters, but the biggest Sounder in Honduras will be Mario Martinez.
The 24-year-old midfielder joined Seattle on loan this summer after starring for the Honduran Olympic team in London. Martinez has also become a regular for the Honduran national team for ongoing FIFA World Cup qualifying.
"Mario will be the star and the focus, so the guys can just concentrate on the game and let Mario do all the press interviews," said coach Sigi Schmid.
The match will be played in Martinez's hometown, San Pedro Sula.
"It's not going to be an easy game," Martinez said through an interpreter. "Marathon is a big team; it's one of the best teams in Honduras. I'm looking forward to it, but now I'm going back and I'm wearing the Seattle jersey and I'm going to play my hardest for Seattle."
• New acquisition Marcus Hahnemann didn't travel to Honduras and will continue to train locally. Seattle's traveling goalkeepers were Michael Gspurning, Josh Ford and Bryan Meredith.
• The Sounders' Oct. 24 group game against Marathon comes four days before Seattle's last game of the MLS regular season, a visit to the Los Angeles Galaxy that could have playoff seeding implications.
• Forward/midfielder David Estrada played his first minutes in more than three months in Sunday's reserve game in Portland. The 24-year-old, who didn't travel to Honduras, is the Sounders' third-leading scorer in MLS and had been out since June with a broken left foot.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers