Sounders FC vs. Santos Laguna
CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals – second leg
April 9, 5:00 pm PT, Estadio Corona, Torreon, Mexico
TV/Radio: Fox Soccer/No radio
When faced with a difficult challenge, it is always best to focus on what you can do to overcome it rather than dwell on the enormity of the task at hand.
That is the approach the Sounders are taking to their CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series with Santos Laguna. After falling behind 1-0 last week in the first leg in Seattle, the Sounders now need to go into Estadio Corona on Tuesday and conjure a victory against one of the best teams in Mexico if they have hopes of becoming just the second team in MLS to reach the Champions League final.
“Nothing is impossible,” forward Eddie Johnson said. “If we’re all on the same page and everyone’s firing on all cylinders, then it’s possible. It’s going to be a difficult game. They’re a very good team at home.”
Santos has shown an ability to dominate at Estadio Corona. They have lost just once in their last 13 home matches there and have outscored MLS opponents 16-3 in winning four Champions League matches against MLS clubs there.
However, the Sounders are confident that they made progress in their 1-0 loss at home last Tuesday and can build off the things they did to overcome that deficit and get a result against those long odds.
“We know that we have a good team to start again and have a good result,” midfielder Mario Martinez said. “We had a lot of opportunities, but we couldn’t finish real well. We have to continue working and trust the team that we have.”
That team had a full week of training between games and will go into the second leg on Tuesday with a good idea of the lineup they will be able to field, something that injuries and international absences have thrown into flux in previous weeks.
Now with more time to envision the game plan, they have been able to develop a better chemistry as they build toward the match in Mexico.
“It’s important for all of us to understand each other a little better, to understand each other’s tendencies. We’re still trying to adjust to that,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Teams have bunkered in a little bit against us and in the games teams have been organized and our ability to break down an organized defense hasn’t been good enough and that’s where you really need an understanding and cohesion.”
The Sounders were statistically equal to Santos Laguna at CenturyLink Field. Seattle won more duels (68-59), was more accurate with their passing (78.6%-75.6% passing accuracy) and had 13 shots to 14 for Santos.
The biggest difference came in the quality of those shots as Seattle was only able to put two shots on target while Santos had five. Focus on that final quality is just one more thing the Sounders are doing to make the mission of wining at Estadio Corona about them and not their opponents.
“It’s all about us,” midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “We have to concentrate on trying to move the ball, trying to get forward in numbers and getting our wide guys the ball in comfortable spots and creating more chances than we have the last couple of games.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT with television coverage on Fox Soccer and the live blog on SoundersFC.com and twitter updates by following @livesounders.