The situation is simple for Forge FC. Win, and they’re in. Lose, and they’re going home. The CPL Champs face a do-or-die tilt against Honduran side Club Deportivo Marathón when they square off in their Concacaf Champions League play-in match on Tuesday (9:55 p.m. ET/TSN 5 and TSN.ca) in what is one of the biggest games in the team's history. After disposing of Club Deportivo Municipal Limeño in El Salvador and Tauro FC in the first two rounds of the 2020 Concacaf League, Forge came up short in the quarter-finals when they lost to Haiti’s Arcahaie FC via a heartbreaking penalty shootout. Fortunately for Forge, all four losing quarter-finalists were given a lifeline, and have one more chance at Concacaf League qualification. Marathón lost its quarter-final against Deportivo Saprissa, thus setting up Tuesday’s special play-in match with Forge where the winner will qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. Here’s what you need to know about CD Marathón.
BROADCAST ALERT: Forge FC vs. Club Deportivo Marathón, Tuesday Dec. 8 at 9:56 pm ET on TSN5 & TSN.ca
Who are Club Deportivo Marathón?CD Marathón is based in the city of San Pedro Sula, a place that will forever live in infamy for Canadian soccer fans – it’s where Canada suffered that humiliating 8-1 loss to Honduras in a World Cup qualifier in 2012. Located in the northern part of Honduras, San Pedro Sula is about a four-hour drive from Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital and largest city. Marathón plays its home games at the modest Estadio Yankel Rosenthal, but Tuesday’s contest will be played at Estadio Tiburcio Carías Andino in Tegucigalpa, home of its biggest rival Club Deportivo Olimpia. Marathón is nicknamed El Monstruo Verde (the Green Monster) on account of their iconic green jerseys.
What kind of pedigree does Club Deportivo Marathón have?Marathón competes in Liga Nacional de Fútbol (also known as Liga Salva Vida), Honduras’ first division and one of the top leagues in Central America. Like many leagues in South and Central America, the Honduran first division is divided into two seasons: The opening Apertura and the closing Clausura. Founded in 1925, Marathón has won nine Honduran league titles, and has finished runners-up on 14 occasions. Only Olimpia (31), Motagua (17) and Real España (12) have won the league more often. Marathón’s last domestic championship came during the 2017-18 Clausura. They’ve also won a pair of Honduran Cups (1994 and 2017) and the Honduran Supercup (2019). Marathón currently sits in first place in Group B of the Apertura standings, with eight wins and two draws from 13 games, and a five-point lead over second-place CDS Vida (Cavalry FC midfielder José Escalante is currently on loan at Vida). Marathón is coming off a 4-0 win over Honduras Progreso on Saturday.
Who is their manager?Former midfielder Hector Vargas is in charge of Marathón. Vargas played in his native Argentina and Colombia before retiring in 1991 and turning to coaching. Since then, he’s managed some big clubs, including Estudiantes de La Plata in Argentina, as well as Platense and Olimpia in Honduras. He’s been at Marathón since 2017.
Which Marathón players should Forge be worried about?There are a few, to be honest. Allan Banegas is a crafty midfielder who played for Honduras at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He scored in Marathón’s round of 16 match in the Concacaf League against Antigua GFC of Guatemala. Carlos Discua is a veteran midfielder who has international experience with the Honduran national team who can spark the attack, while Kervin Arriaga provides steel and grit to the midfield. Argentinian forward Bruno Volpi, Honduran midfielder Edwin Solano and teenaged midfielder Luis Vega all have a nose for goal.
What kind of international history does Marathón have?This year marks Marathón’s second participation in the Concacaf League. The Hondurans bowed out in the preliminary round of last year’s tournament following a loss to Comunicaciones FC of Guatemala. Beyond that, Marathón has twice played in the Concacaf Champions League, reaching the quarter-finals both times in 2008-09 and 2009-10. During their first Champions League run, Marathón impressively won their opening-round group – which included Mexican giants Cruz Azul and MLS side DC United, and Costa Rican heavyweights Deportivo Saprissa. The following year they emerged from a tough group that featured Mexico’s Deportivo Toluca, DC United and San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad. Marathón competed in the old CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, which was the forerunner of the Concacaf Champions League, on five occasions between 1974 and 1988. They also finished in third place during the 1995 CONCACAF Cup Winners' Cup tournament.