San Pedro Sula, Honduras (August 22, 2011) - The Colorado Rapids landed at San Pedro Sula International Airport in Honduras at 6:55 pm local time on Tuesday, some 11 hours after departing Denver earlier in the day.
Upon arrival for Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League match against Real Espana, members of the local media snapped photos and filmed the defending MLS champs once they passed through customs and walked to the team bus. Well versed on the club, the media interviewed head coach Gary Smith and Jamaican's Tyrone Marshall and Omar Cummings before the team departed for the hotel, escorted by police in cars and motorcycles.
"Very excited," head coach Gary Smith told ColoradoRapids.com. "It's a completely different atmosphere...of course we're in a completely different country but the guys are pretty excited. We've got a good team and we're looking forward to a very competitive game tomorrow."
With Matt Pickens staying home to rest after playing every minute of every match this season, the likely starter in goal is third year 'keeper Steward Ceus.
"I'm fully prepared," said Ceus, who has been called up by Haiti for two World Cup Qualifying matches next month. "I've been healthy and working hard every day, so I think it's a good chance for me to play and get my feet wet for the season. I have a core of defenders who have a lot of experience in front of me, so it's going to be a great boost for me to be able to work with them and know that they know what they're doing, and help me along the way."
The Rapids enter the second match of Group play with three point, having defeated Isidro Metapan 3-2 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park last week. Espana fell to Santos Laguna 3-2 in Mexico and will be playing their first match of the tournament in their home stadium, Estadio Morazan.
"We haven't played against each other," said defender Kosuke Kimura. "And the atmosphere and humidity makes this tough. It will be a hard game but we got here, and we have to do anything we can to win the game."
English soccer veteran Caleb Folan is looking forward to playing in a new country.
"It's definitely a different experience, as we saw in the home game," said Folan. "It's a totally different attitude and mentality towards the game. They are very passionate about football in this part of the world. We expect a very hostile and tough game. I've experience different environments before, but not quite like this."
The game kicks off at 8 pm MT and can be seen live on Fox Soccer.