Sean de Silva’s eyes widened when he saw the draw for the 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, especially when checking out who Central FC’s first opponent in Group D – the LA Galaxy.
It wasn’t fear that the 25-year-old was feeling.
“To be honest I was more excited than anything,” said the midfielder. “It’s a huge opportunity for each and every one of us on the team to showcase ourselves as well as getting a chance to play against some of the best players to ever play the game such as [Steven] Gerrard and [Robbie] Keane and even locally-based players like Gyasi Zardes, who is fantastic and [Omar] Gonzalez.”
That first meeting will take place at the StubHub on Thursday. Yes, Trinidad & Tobago’s Central FC is going to Hollywood, where they will look to thrive in the role of underdog.
“It’s always good being the underdog where you don’t have the pressure of how this should be a guaranteed win or everybody sees this as a win,” expressed de Silva, who played college soccer in the United States at the College of Charleston. “I think we definitely could go there, put out a good performance and, at the end of the day, get a good result. The most important thing is to get a good result in LA.”
While the LA Galaxy is a charter member of Major League Soccer, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, Central FC has only been in existence for three years. And yet, the club has already captured a TT Pro League title (2014/15) and a CFU Club Championship crown (2015).
Central FC defeated local-rival DirecTV W Connection, 2-1, in the regional final, which de Silva said speaks to the strength of Trinidadian soccer.
“For two Trinidadian teams to come out on top in the Caribbean Cup, it definitely shows we’re making that leap up,” he stressed. “We just need to continue what we’re doing. There’s no telling where Trinidad & Tobago can go.”
De Silva said the Sharks’ goal is to advance out of the group stage, which will not be an easy task in a group that consists of an LA Galaxy team that could be considered a favorite to win the entire competition and Guatemala’s Comunicaciones, which is competing in the SCCL for the fifth time.
The first step will be to avoid being star-struck against the Galaxy.
“We can’t step out on the pitch and already be afraid or a step behind thinking ‘oh wow, we’re playing against Gerrard or Keane,’” finished de Silva. “Even though they are legends when we go out there we need to go out there and try to get our jobs done.”