The Sounders FC will finish the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Tigres UANL on Tuesday night at CenturyLink Field.
They trail the top team in Mexico’s Liga MX 1-0 after a grueling first leg in Monterrey, Mexico. After their 2-1 win over San Luis on Saturday, Tigres moved to 7-0-3 in league play to rest comfortably atop the league standings and are unbeaten in their last 13 matches across all competitions.
However, the Sounders feel like they are in a pretty good place as they gear up for the second leg, looking to advance to the CCL semifinals for the first time in club history.
“I’m happy at the end of the day with the score because I didn’t think we had a particularly great game, necessarily,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Being in front of our home crowd, we have a solvable equation, which is the main thing we wanted to be sure that we did.”
In a two-leg, aggregate-goal series, there are clear advantages to hosting the second leg.
While hosting the first leg gives a team the potential to go up big at home, playing the second leg at home allows for the opportunity to know exactly what result is needed to advance, and do so with fan support behind them.
“It’s a great advantage for us and we hope our fans turn out in big numbers because we have an opportunity to advance to the semifinals. It’s something that’s solvable,” Schmid said. “We know we can’t take any goals, but we just have to work hard and push.”
That’s the tricky part for the Sounders. They need a goal to force overtime, but if they open up too much and allow opportunities to Tigres, they could find themselves trailing 1-0 in the match and 2-0 in the series. Because the first tie-breaker is away goals, they would then need a win by two or more goals to earn a spot in the semifinals.
The circumstances of a second leg aren’t enough, alone, to instill confidence for the Sounders though. They have several other elements also working in their favor.
“I like our chances in the second leg. We’re coming back here playing on the turf, the weather plays in our favor and we’re a good team at home,” forward Eddie Johnson said, also noting that Tigres is not to be taken lightly. “We know it’s a long game. That’s why we have to be focused for 90-minutes-plus. When you switch it off, the good teams like Tigres will punish you.”
The Sounders are unbeaten when they play the second game of a two-leg series at home in the MLS Cup playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League. However, it’s only been enough to get through on one occasion. In 2011, they topped San Francisco FC of Panama 1-0 in the Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League, forcing overtime after a 1-0 loss in Panama. Seattle won in the overtime to advance to the Group Stage. Later in 2011, they outran Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals, but their 2-0 win wasn’t enough to overcome the 3-0 deficit established at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first leg. Similarly, a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship in 2012.
Kickoff for Tuesday’s match is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT, with television coverage on Fox Soccer and the radio broadcast on KIRO Radio 97.3. Tickets are available at SoundersFC.com here or by phone at 800-745-3000.