Fútbol Club Motagua, or the Blue Cyclone as it is commonly called, of Liga Nacional de Honduras is one of the most decorated and popular sides in Honduras. The club plays out of the capital city Tegucigalpa alongside league rivals Club Deportivo Olimpia.
With 31 league championships to 17 and two Concacaf Champions Cups, Olimpia is by far the nation’s most successful side. However, by no means should the Atlanta United travel to the heart of Honduras under the impression the result is a formality.
The Eagles, as they are also called, have been quite dominant in recent years. Domestically, Motagua has finished either champions or runners-up in the past four Liga Nacional Apertura tournaments as well as in the previous three Clasura tournaments.
At the international level, Motagua has finished as runners-up in the previous two installments of the Concacaf League. In the most recent edition, the Eagles lost to Costa Rican side Saprissa 1-0 on aggregate. Despite falling short, the side has proven in recent years that it can compete and advance far in international competitions.
Motagua has a lot of talent that the Honduran National team often calls up. Most of the recent national team call ups have been for defenders such as Denil Maldonado and Félix Crisanto.
Another player Atlanta will have their eye on is Juan Pablo Montes. The defender who was included in the Best XI at the 2018 Concacaf Awards had two goals for the side en route to this year’s Concacaf League final.
The side also has a dangerous attack led by forwards Marcelo Luciano Estigarribia and Roberto Moreira who contributed seven and eight goals respectively in Liga Nacional.
Diego Vásquez has managed the Blue Cyclone since 2013. Vásquez has won many titles with the side both as a manager and player. In his first coaching position, Vásquez holds the record of leading a Liga Nacional Club for over 250 consecutive matches. The former goalkeeper will be an interesting competitor for former defender and Atlanta head coach Frank de Boer.
FC Motagua’s supporters, La Revo, have made the Estadio Nacional a fortress and a difficult away fixture for any side. In the last Liga Nacional Apertura tournament, Motagua lost just once at home.
With Motagua and Atlanta both dominant at home, this matchup will most certainly come down to who performs better on the road. Each side has had their fair share of struggles away. However, it could be argued that the Hondurans have the edge when traveling. The Eagles lost four league games on the road, but three of these defeats were by a 1-goal margin and at the international stage the side conceded just three times in four away fixtures.
Atlanta will have learned from the last campaign that the side can’t just hope for a dominant home performance to carry them through. The Five Stripes will have to show up in the away fixtures and start strong, which they failed to do against Herediano last year in Costa Rica.
This matchup is an exciting one and gives fans the opportunity to learn a little more about the small nation and the sides that compete there. Despite the country’s struggles with crime, Honduras is a proud nation that is crazy about the sport. Any fans planning to attend the away leg should be cautious while traveling, but by no means shy away from the opportunity for fear of violence or crime.
This fixture is what the Concacaf Champions league is all about. Two exciting clubs from two different nations competing in front of two fan bases that are extremely passionate and hungry for success. This matchup brings two sides who are separated by 1,367 miles together to celebrate culture and the beautiful game.
Anyone here plan on making the trip? Let us know in the comments.