Tonight, the Sounders FC will have a close eye to the television when Saprissa hosts Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League.
A win by visiting Monterrey keeps the Sounders hopes alive in the group stages, provided they can win home matches against Marathon Wednesday night and Saprissa on October 19.
“It will affect some of our choices, for sure,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “If Saprissa gets a point, that eliminates us from the Champions League, so we’ll make certain decisions. If Saprissa loses the game, there is still a great opportunity for us and it will probably affect our 18. It might not affect our starting lineup as much as it affects our 18.”
Seattle has been unable to get a result to this point. However, in three road matches they are not at all embarrassed by their play. They took an early lead at Marathon before conceding the game-tying goal, then a questionable penalty. They played even with Saprissa before a red card tipped the scales in the home side’s favor. And they held a 2-0 lead in Monterrey before allowing three goals in four minutes thanks to a string of phenomenal play by Monterrey forward Humberto Suazo.
“We have just been disappointed because we have played four games and we have had to play three away and every away game we felt we were there to win the game,” Schmid said. “A red card, a 5-minute meltdown, giving away a questionable penalty kick in Honduras. So our luck hasn’t broken for us there.”
Of the three meetings, Marathon was the least daunting heading into the tournament. The club from Honduras has managed wins over Seattle and Saprissa in the Champions League, though, and is even with the Costa Rican club in second in the Group C standings with six points.
While Schmid went with a lineup made up mostly of reserves in last week’s match with Monterrey, he is, by no means, conceding Champions League matches, but rather providing opportunities for players to state their case for more playing time. Against Monterrey, for example, Mike Fucito scored one goal and took the shot that ricocheted into the net on the other Seattle goal.
“The guys either know they have a chance to advance or guys are out there playing, saying ‘Hey coach, look at me. I want you to notice me. I want to be the guy who you can rely on as you move forward and who you can look to,’” Schmid said. “We think whoever we are going to put in there is going to be able to deal with it tactically. We just have to make sure we keep certain guys in check from them and take care of our business.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm Pacific Time on Fox Soccer Channel. Tickets are still available on www.SoundersFC.com.