After a lousy start as well as a tongue-lashing from coach Sigi Schmid, the Sounders need a big win to take into the second leg of the Champions League series at Santos Laguna in Mexico.
MATCH: Santos Laguna (6-2-4, 4th, Liga MX, 1-0 CCL) at Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-1, 1, 9th, MLS West; 1-0 CCL). TYPE: CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 1st match of two-legged series. TV: FOX Soccer. RADIO: KIRO AM, 97.3.
Offensively feeble in MLS play so far, the Sounders are going to need an explosive goal-scoring performance Tuesday when they play the first leg of a two-legged Champions League semifinal series against Mexico’s Santos Laguna. If last year is any indication, even three- or four-goal triumph might not be enough to hold off the Mexicans once they get Seattle in their home park.
Last year, the Sounders won the first leg against Santos 2-1. But when they got to Mexico, Santos buried Seattle 6-1 to claim the series 7 goals to 3.
The Houston Dynamo also fell victim to the Santos home advantage in this year’s quarterfinals. After winning the first leg 1-0 in Houston, the Dynamo was smoked 3-0 when the teams played in Mexico.
Given the way the Sounders have performed so far — Seattle is off to a franchise-worst 0-3-1 MLS start — a win over Santos Tuesday by any margin seems unlikely, unless the club heeds the tongue lashing coach Sigi Schmid administered after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake.
Schmid held a closed-door meeting with his players, after which he curiously used the word “disease” to describe the plight of his club.
“We’re picking and choosing at times when to play,” Schmid said. “We have yet to get where 11 guys are involved for 90 minutes. At the end of the day, you have to work.”
Schmid suggested that personnel changes could be forthcoming if the slackers in the midst don’t shape up soon.
“You have to run with people on one-twos, you have to follow people, anticipate, close down, and if you don’t want to do any of that, then it becomes a difficult game to play,” said Schmid.
Added new defender Dijimi Traore: “What we’ve showed on the pitch is not the Seattle Sounders team. We need to change things. We need to take responsibility and turn this thing around.”
The Sounders have one suspension and three medical issues. Seattle will be without goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, suspended for receiving a second yellow card in the 86th minute of Seattle’s CCL match with Tigres March 12. Gspurning drew the yellow for “time wasting.”
The card was issued, according to MLS, “around the time” Tigres made a substitution. TV cameras did not record the infraction and the official box score made no note of it. The Sounders didn’t learn about the suspension until a day later.
With Gspurning idled, Marcus Hahnemann will make his second career start. He made his first Oct. 24, 2012 in a 3-1 win over CD Marathon in the final match of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Hahnemann played 242 shutout minutes in the 2013 preseason, and made seven saves with one goal allowed in an MLS reserve league match against Portland March 17.
Newcomer Obafemi Martins is nursing an “undisclosed ailment,” Eddie Johnson has a sore toe and David Estrada is convalescing from a poke in the eye suffered against Real Salt Lake. The three are Seattle’s top goal-scoring threats.
The Sounders reached the semifinals of the 2012-13 CCL by recording an aggregate 6-3 victory over Marathon Sept. 19 (3-2) and Oct. 24, 2012 (3-1) and a 4-2 aggregate victory over Tigres, also of Mexico, in March.
The LA Galaxy play defending champion Monterrey in the other CCL semifinal. The winner of that series will meet the Seattle-Santos winner April 24 and May 1. The winner of the final round will advance to the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in December in Morocco.
The Sounders won their last four CCL home matches, outscoring opponents 11-4 in that span. Overall, the Sounders are 8-4 at home in CCL play with a +17 goal differential.
Santos is captained by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, who has 99 caps for El Tri. The Santos attack features U.S. international Herculez Gomez, whose career has enjoyed a resurgence in the Mexican Primera Division.
Gonzalez, who played under Sigi Schmid in Los Angeles in 2003 and also for the USL Sounders the same year, is the first player to win an MLS Cup and a Primera Division title.
Gonzalez scored three goals against Seattle in last year’s two-legged series. Mexican forward Oribe Peralta was the co-leading scorer in last year’s Champions League with seven goals and scored 43 goals in all competitions, all from the run of play.
2013 Sounders CONCACAF Schedule / Results
Sounders All-Time Champions League Results (12-10-2)
|8/3/10||El Salvador||Metapan||D||1-0-1||Draw 1-1|
|9/14/10||Costa Rica||Saprissa||L||1-3-1||Saprissa 2-0|
|7/26/11||Panama||San Francisco||L||2-6-1||San Francisco 1-0|
|8/3/11||Seattle||San Francisco||W||3-6-1||Sounders 2-0|
|9/14/11||Costa Rica||Herediano||W||6-6-1||Sounders 2-1|
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
HEAD COACH: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football is one of six continental confederations of FIFA. CONCACAF serves as the governing body of soccer/football in this part of the world and is composed of 40 national associations, from Canada in the north to Guyana, Surinam and French Guyana in the south.
The winner of the CONCACAF tournament becomes eligible to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. Monterrey is the defending CCL champion, having defeated Santos Laguna 3-2 on aggregate goals in the 2011-12 tournament (Santos eliminated Seattle from the tournament in March).
ABOUT SANTOS LAGUNA
Santos Laguna represents the urban area of Comarca Laguneras (ninth largest metropolitan area in Mexico, between two states, Coahuila and Durango), made up of Torreón, Gomez Palacio, and Lerdo . . . Santos Laguna plays in the Primera División . . . Founded in 1982, Santos reached Mexico’s top tier in 1988-89 and has won three league championships, first in the Invierno 1996 tournament, second in the Verano 2001 tournament, and most recently in the Clausura 2008 tournament . . . Santos finished fourth in the 2011 Apertura, the first championship of the Mexican season (July 22-Nov. 6) . . . Santos is known familiarly as White and Green and Los Guerreros, or “The Warriors.” . . In 2011, Santos Laguna formed a partnership with Celtic (Scottish Premier League), in which the clubs agreed to transfer knowledge on coaching, players, football academies and perhaps eventually swap first-team players.
COMING UP: The Sounders travel to Torreon, Mexico, to face Santos in the second leg of April 9. Sounders resume MLS action April 13 at CenturyLink Field against the New England Revolution.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(0-3-1, 1 point, MLS; 1-0-0 CCL; 0-0-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-2-1|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer