The Seattle Sounders need a two-goal margin of victory Tuesday night over Santos Laguna of Mexico in order to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League final.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-1, 1, 9th, MLS West; 1-0 CCL) at Santos Laguna (6-2-4, 4th, Liga MX, 1-0 CCL). TYPE: CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. WHEN: Tuesday, 5 p.m., Estadio Corona, Torreon, Mexico. MEETING: 2nd match of two-leg series (Santos leads 1-0). TV: FOX Soccer. RADIO: KIRO AM, 97.3.
Offensively feeble in MLS play so far, the Sounders are going to need a major goal-scoring performance Tuesday when they play the second of a two-leg Champions League semifinal series against Mexico’s Santos Laguna. Having lost to Santos last Tuesday, the Sounders are already down a goal (1-0) and will be facing a club that chews up opponents on its home grounds.
Last year, the Sounders won the first leg against Santos at home 2-1. When they played in 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 fell 3-0 in Mexico.
To advance to the CCL final, the Sounders, who average 1.14 goals per match while conceding 2.14 (seven matches, all competitions) must win while scoring two goals or more in regulation, or win 1-0 to force overtime. A draw or loss would result in elimination.
The Sounders started off the CCL group stage with back-to-back 3-1 wins over Caledonia of Trinidad followed by two victories over Honduras’ Marathon, winning 3-2 away and 3-1 at home. The Sounders finished with a plus-seven goal differential with four of the five goals conceded coming via penalty shots. In the knockout round, the Sounders entered as the No. 3 overall seed and ousted Tigres of Mexico, 3-2 on aggregate.
By beating Tigres, Seattle became the first MLS club to eliminate a Mexican side from the modern-era Champions League tournament. Seattle will now attempt to become the first MLS team to oust two Mexican teams and just the second to make the final.
Now for the reality facing the Sounders Tuesday: Santos has marched through CCL play against Toronto FC, CD Aguila of Salvadore, the Houston Dynamo and Sounders (first leg) by a combined score of 17-2.
Santos received its lone goal against Seattle last week from American-born forward Herculez Gomez, who played for the USL Sounders in 2003 (17 matches) and has four goals in three career games against Seattle and nine goals in nine matches against MLS clubs.
The Sounders expect to have Michael Gspurning back in goal for the second leg. Gspurning sat out the first while serving as one-match suspension for receiving a second yellow card against Tigres.
While midfielder Brad Evans is listed as a probable starter Tuesday, he has re-aggravated a calf injury and could miss the second leg. So could Eddie Johnson, who is dealing with a hamstring issue. Johnson is in Mexico with the club, but it’s not certain he’ll play.
Forward Obafemi Martins is out, having left the team to seek treatment for a knee injury overseas and may not play Saturday when the Sounders host the New England Revolution.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE STARTERS: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning; Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin; Midfielders — Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Mario Martinez, Brad Evans; Forwards — Eddie Johnson, Sammy Ochoa.
2013 Sounders CONCACAF Schedule / Results
Sounders All-Time Champions League Results (12-11-2)
|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 resume MLS action Saturday 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|
|4/9||*at Santos||5:00||Fox Soccer||—||—||—|
|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