FRISCO, Texas - The parent in Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid may come in handy in their current stretch of games.
The Sounders FC lost their eight-match unbeaten streak on Saturday when they fell 2-1 to Real Salt Lake. However, they didn’t lose their confidence, nor their perspective.
And while their last defeat came 42 days earlier, they can lean on that experience to have more confidence in their team as they head to Costa Rica to play their next match, a group stage meeting with Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night. Schmid finds himself citing an old parenting axiom to get his team back on track.
“We’ve talked about it a couple times what it was like when we lost in Houston,” he said. “We’ve just got to get right back up on the bicycle and start riding again and show that it was just a hiccup and wasn’t anything long-term for us.”
Their previous loss, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Houston Dynamo on July 30, triggered an incredible run in August that saw the team go 7-0-1 in all competitions, including three wins in the Champions League, one in the US Open Cup and a 3-0-1 record in MLS play that featured road victories over Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas.
The lessons from that stretch aren’t lost on the players.
“We need to keep our head up and understand that what got us an undefeated August was forgetting about a loss and moving on,” forward Pat Noonan said. “If we can do that again in a tough atmosphere, it will put us in a great position in group play with three wins.”
One thing Seattle has working in their favor coming off the loss is a quick turnaround. After taking the day off on Sunday, the team flew to Dallas, Texas, and trained in nearby Frisco on Monday. They will stay in Texas to train on Tuesday before flying to Costa Rica for Wednesday’s match.
“Anytime you come off of a bad result you want to get back on the field as soon as possible,” defender Zach Scott said. “That’s what this game provides us - an opportunity to make amends.”
In Herediano, the Sounders meet a team that lost both of their first two matches in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. However, a recent coaching change and a 4-0 victory over league-leading Alajualense over the weekend.
Seattle’s early success in the group stage that has them leading the group with six points through the first two matches has them confident going into the match while maintaining an awareness about their recent loss and the recent successes of Herediano.
“We definitely don’t take anything for granted. We know it’s going to be a tough game down in Costa Rica and we’re playing a good team,” Scott said. “We’re putting a good squad out there and hoping to get the result.”
The match comes during what could be a pivotal week for the Sounders. A win on Wednesday will give them nine points in the group with three matches to play, including a home bout next week with Herediano at CenturyLink Field. Any points from their final three matches in that scenario would virtually guarantee advancement to the quarterfinals of the tournament in February and March of 2012.
Additionally, the Sounders meet DC United on Saturday with a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a victory and losses during the week by the Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo.
Achieving success early in the Champions League would allow Schmid the flexibility to shift the club’s focus to the league schedule and the Open Cup final on October 5 against the Chicago Fire.
“The sooner we can achieve our goal of advancing to the quarterfinals of CONCACAF then that allows us to focus a little more on our goal in MLS,” he said. “Right now we’re trying to keep both goals in our sight but the game Saturday against D.C. is very important for league, the game against Herediano at home is also very important, and the game on Wednesday is like a bonus game so if we can get three points out of that it’s a huge bonus.”
The match kicks off at 7 pm Pacific Time and can be seen live on Fox Soccer.