If recovering from a three-nil deficit in the MLS Cup Playoffs feels familiar, it means that you are a Seattle Sounders FC fan for all of a year. The harsh reality after the loss to the LA Galaxy in leg one of the Western Conference Championship is a result that mirrors what happened against Real Salt Lake in 2011. This week Sigi Schmid called it a hole that the team dug themselves.
Brad Evans was asked by reporters earlier in the week if Sounders FC players could take any lessons from the attempt at a comeback last year. His answer was harsh and simple.
“The only thing we learned is that you just have to bust it. You never know what’s going to happen in a game. If you let down for one second, good teams are going to bite you. That’s what happened against us this past weekend,” Evans explained. “We played desperate like a team with our backs up against the wall, that’s about it.”
Just how much did Seattle “bust it” in leg two against Salt Lake? The passing numbers in the attacking third for the two teams shows a clear difference.
On the left you see those passes for the Sounders. On the right those of Real Salt Lake are displayed. Those two images grabbed from the chalkboard of the game are clear. The Sounders dominated attacking play and it was not even close.
It was a game where the players’ desire for goals and to prove to the home town fans that the first leg was an aberration can not be questioned. It was a kind of dominance that will be necessary Sunday.
The Sounders did that while being forced to use two subs in the first 21 minutes. Despite the depleted roster (something that may or may not be true in 2012) Seattle took 26 shot attempts. A full six Sounders took three or more shots; seven put at least one on goal.
It was a barrage unleashed on Nick Rimando.
If Seattle Sounders FC can managed to do that again Sunday night against Josh Saunders and the LA Galaxy backline it is a recipe for success. It is highly unlikely that the Galaxy manage to block nine attempts as Salt Lake did.
That isn’t the only event demonstrating hope for the Sounders. How much hope can a result that wasn’t enough generate? But this team on its first trip to Mexico lost 2-3. Their next trip to Mexico was a 1-nil win. In fact every year in the CONCACAF Champions League the team’s record has improved. In this year’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final Seattle fell behind a goal and would draw even just two minutes later. There is plenty of history among the players in overcoming obstacles as well.
While Brad Evans and the team may not look to the second leg against Real Salt Lake as a reason for hope it can be a fuel for the passion of the men and women in the stands hoping for just one more special moment in Seattle sports history.