“63 points doesn’t lie.”
That was the message from Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid on the last day before they face Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinal series, entering the home leg trailing 3-0.
“We’ve been a good team throughout the season,” Schmid said. “We need to get back to that and we need to remember what made us a good team, what made us dangerous and what made us successful.”
Very few of those traits were on display when Seattle fell behind 3-0 to RSL on Saturday in the first leg of the aggregate goal series.
To Schmid, though, the results from that match aren’t as important as how the Sounders FC responds to the hole that they’ve put themselves in.
“We can’t go back and change Saturday’s game. We can’t change our performance from that night because it’s not going to change that result,” he said. “What we can do is change our performance and affect the result tomorrow night. That’s our intention and that’s our goal.”
To advance, Seattle will need to outscore RSL by three goals to force overtime or a shootout or four goals to win outright. It would not be an unprecedented outcome in soccer, or even in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Back in 2003, the LA Galaxy held a 4-0 lead over the San Jose Earthquakes as the two clubs neared halftime of the second leg. San Jose pulled one goal back just before halftime and another just after the intermission, eventually forcing extra time and winning 5-4 on aggregate.
In that match, there was no panic in the Earthquakes. They found the line between urgency and alarm and never crossed it. That, Schmid said, will be key for the Sounders on Wednesday.
“We know we’re not going to get all three goals in five minutes. It’s going to be a working process,” he said. “It’s going to be 90 minutes of work and we’ve got to get our goals from different places. We’ve got to get them from the run of play. We have to be dangerous on our corners. We’ve got to be dangerous on set pieces. We’ve got to keep the pressure on them and not give anything up, but on the same token we have to carry the game to them fueled on by our efforts and fueled on by our crowd.”
The magnitude of the road ahead is not lost on Schmid though. However, he embraces the opportunity to produce a historic outcome.
“Sometimes to do outstanding things or to do miracles, you have to set the stage,” he said. “We certainly have set the stage. Now it’s up to us to show our tenacity as a team and show our determination as a team.”