It was a stunning comeback on Tuesday night as the Sounders FC got goals from DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore and Eddie Johnson to rally back from a 2-0 deficit to topple Tigres UANL in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Here are four takeaways from the historic win at CenturyLink Field.
“You have to dare to be brilliant.”
That was among the messages from head coach Sigi Schmid to his team at halftime and the three goalscorers were just that – brilliant.
It started with the daring 19-year-old Yedlin unfurling a shot off the volley of a clearance on a corner kick. It was followed up quickly by Traore, a veteran of 13 seasons in Europe, doing the same on a clearance. It finished with Johnson, the club’s leading scorer, putting on a clutch performance to seal the series.
“You can’t be brilliant if you don’t try it,” Schmid said. “DeAndre hitting that ball, Djimi hitting that ball, it’s taking a chance, but that’s how you score great goals.”
Daring is one word to describe Yedlin. In his first professional match, he took a risky challenge of veteran Italian forward Marco Di Vaio at the edge of the box, winning on his gamble when he knocked the ball clear to prevent a scoring chance for the Montreal Impact in the season-opener. On Tuesday, his biggest risk came on the offensive end with the challenging shot that cracked the game open and boosted Seattle’s confidence.
“The amazing thing about this is that he, with his 19 years, showed the self-confidence to even risk taking that shot,” Gspurning said. “That’s a good thing for a young player.”
It’s not over until the final whistle
Through three-quarters of the two-legged series, the Sounders had shown signs that they could compete with Tigres, but had yet to break through and find their first goal of the series – or the season, for that matter.
Schmid had some choice words for his team at the half on Tuesday, though, and they responded in kind, exploding for the three goals needed to advance to the semifinals. A positive message, to Yedlin, was the difference for Seattle in the second half.
“Sigi just told us to stay positive and that we had nothing to lose. We could go out and make history. All we had to do was go out and score a couple of goals,” Yedlin said. “Everybody was pretty positive. I mean you cannot be negative in those situations. Everybody was just supporting each other and making sure we knew what we had to do going to the second half."
Fool me once …
Johnson scored a tremendous goal in the 75th minute and while the goal came as the result of heaps of momentum being piled the Sounders FC’s direction, it also came on a smart play by Johnson that harkened back to an earlier effort in the first half. In the 36th minute, Johnson got the ball on the left side and shot for the far post, but his effort was tipped away by goalkeeper Jorge Diaz de Leon. When he was given that opportunity again, he changed his approach slightly and beat Diaz de Leon over his outside shoulder for the series-winning goal.
“In the first half I got in the same position and I tried to shoot it across to the back post,” Johnson said. “I looked at the replay and saw he leans and cheats a little bit. I was able to sneak it in near past.”
Next up: It doesn’t matter
In the semifinals next month, the Sounders will face the winner of the quarterfinal series between the Houston Dynamo and Santos Laguna, which started with a 1-0 Dynamo win in Houston last week and concludes Wednesday in Mexico. While the Dynamo would provide an easier travel foe, Schmid is not openly rooting one way or the other in the match.
“I learned a long time ago, I don’t care who we play,” Schmid said, noting last year’s results against Santos Laguna in the quarterfinal We’ve got a score to settle with Santos, if Santos is the representative. And if it’s Houston, then that’s the team we’ve got to get past. Either way, it’s ok with me."The semifinal series starts April 2-4 and concludes April 9-11.