Prior to taking on Tigres in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said that if his team couldn’t win the first leg of the two-legged series, he would be more than satisfied with a one-goal loss. That’s what happened, as the Sounders fell 1-0 to Mexico’s top team in Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday night.
Alan Pulido notched the winning goal for Tigres in the 73rd minute on a soft header, but the Sounders repeatedly repelled the hosts thereafter, setting up a situation in which the Sounders need to win by a one-goal margin on aggregate in the second leg of the series.
“We’re happy that we’re in a position that we can win this thing in Seattle,” Schmid said. “The last two years with two-game series in the (MLS), we go down 3-0. I thought it was important that once we took that goal, we maintained our defensive integrity and made sure that we didn’t take another goal.
“That was a mistake that we made in the past games. I feel good about where we are. We’re still at the beginning of our season, so I don’t think it was our best soccer.”
That match is Tuesday at CenturyLink Field. If the Sounders manage a one-goal aggregate win, they will advance to the semifinal round against either the Houston Dynamo or Santos Laguna, the club that eliminated Seattle from Champions League competition last year.
Tigres dominated the run of play throughout the match, first-half statistics reflecting the entire 90 minutes. Tigres took 11 shots in the first 45 minutes, Seattle none, and held a 64 to 36 percent edge in time of possession. At no time during the match did the Sounders put any pressure on Tigres.
In the second half, Tigres created many more scoring chances than the Sounders, who didn’t get their first shot until the 57th minute when Eddie Johnson ripped a shot from the top of the box that Enrique Palos stopped. Their first corner kick was not until the 80th minute.
But Seattle played superb defense — using six defenders after Pulido scored — and considered itself fortunate to come away with a 1-0 setback.
“I thought we did all right defensively,” Schmid said. “We dodged a few bullets. I think they had three really good chances in the first half they might normally score, but that’s part of the game, too.
“We had a couple of counters that I thought we could have done a little better with. Overall, I thought the defense stayed organized and disciplined.”
Lamar Neagle had a shot at the equalizing goal in the 82nd minute, but Palos made a near-post save.
Seattle has played the first leg of a two-leg series on the road nine times since the club formed in 2009. The Sounders are 3-6 in those matches.