It was a quiet day at Sounders FC training on Monday as the team returned to Starfire for the first time since suffering a 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal series on Saturday.
The players and coaches filed out from the locker room after a video session, battled through training with steely focus, then filed back to the locker room with the same type of concentration.
While he might not be pleased with the play on the field or the result on Saturday, goalkeeper Kasey Keller said he saw exactly what he expected to see from his club on Monday.
“There’s a bit of dejection, but you’d expect that,” Keller said. “We’re all extremely disappointed with the scoreline and the mountain we have to climb, but it’s definitely a climbable mountain instead of something that’s insurmountable.”
A down locker room is exactly what head coach Sigi Schmid expected to see on Monday, too.
A defeated man after the match, Schmid had a much more uplifting approach after Monday’s training session. Particularly after seeing his team’s demeanor on and off the field.
“It was the calm before the storm,” he said. “We’ll be ready.”
Watching film of the first leg reaffirmed for Schmid that Real Salt Lake was clearly the better team on Saturday, but also told him that the difference between the two sides wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed during the match.
“It’s never as bad as you thought it was and it’s never as good as you thought it was when you play well,” Schmid said. “Watching it, I just thought the same thing I felt right after the game. We turned the ball over far too easily. That forces our shape to be to their offensive shape, which gives them the advantage. So we have to do a much better job of keeping the ball.”
The Sounders won more of the duels in the match, but their passing success rate of just 65 percent paled in comparison to the 80 percent for Salt Lake. The Sounders didn’t manage a single shot on goal, but did have five shots blocked, a trend the Sounders experienced early in the season before bouncing back to become the top scoring team in the league.
That is one of the facts that has many around the league repeating the same mantra about Wednesday’s game – If there is any team that can come back from a 3-0 deficit, it’s the Sounders FC.
If they are able to mount a comeback and advance, Schmid says it will be a sight to behold.
“Everything sets up an opportunity so we have an opportunity here on Wednesday to come up with a great result. Hopefully, if we have a result that we want to have, it will be a game that people will remember for a long, long time,” he said. “So that’s our objective—to create a game that you’re not going to forget for a long time.”