For the Portland Timbers, the long offseason is nearly behind them.
"Finally, we have come to the moment we have been waiting for," said head coach Giovanni Savarese to open Friday's press conference.
Portland flies to Honduras on Saturday to play CD Marathón in Leg 1 of the 2021 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, April 6.
"We have done a lot of preparation to this day and the guys have worked very hard to ensure we have a plan in place, so we arrive to Honduras with the best fitness condition that we can," said Savarese.
Portland qualified for the champions league after winning the MLS is Back Tournament inside the Orlando bubble last summer.
Heading into the tournament-clinching match, Diego Valeri said he "love[s] that kind of international competition," and it adds "prestige for the club."
"I think for us it's a big deal," Diego Charà said Friday. "We have to prepare well, be ready for this big challenge."
Charà mentioned last time the club played in the CONCACAF Champions League, the team made too many mistakes. Now the Timbers have worked the last six weeks to prepare for the trip to Honduras and play a solid, mistake-free, 90-minute match.
In 2016-17, the Timbers tied Leg 1 against Deportivo Saprissa at home and then lost on the road 2-4, failing to advance past the group stage.
"The excitement of the group, you can sense it," added Savarese during Friday's media session.
The Timbers head coach said the goal is to go as far as possible, to make history as the United States representative, but it begins with a solid performance in Leg 1.
"You need to understand that this first leg is essential. It is very important."
Additionally, Sebastiàn Blanco is "very, very close" to returning from a torn ACL per Savarese and will travel with the team.
After winning MLS is Back, Blanco said performing in the CONCACAF Champions League "is a tournament that I’ve definitely wanted to play in and this is something that I really wanted."
Leg 1 kicks off at 3:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, April 6 on Fox Sports 1.
Then, the Timbers will host Leg 2 at Providence Park one week later on Tuesday, April 13 in the first home match in front of fans in over a calendar year.