CCL Preview: Seattle not underestimating foes Herediano

On a two-game roll to open the current edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, Group D leaders Seattle Sounders will be looking to keep their perfect start on Matchday 3 when they visit Costa Rica’s Herediano on Wednesday (10 pm ET, FOX Soccer).

Losers of their first two, Herediano must earn a result if they harbor any hope of advancing past the group stage.

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid sounded the alarm about underestimating Herediano, who have experienced a resurgence under new coach Jafet Soto.

“I think Herediano is a team that’s a dangerous team right now,” Schmid told reporters in a conference call on Monday. “It’s a different team than the one that lost to Monterrey and a different team that lost to Comunicaciones. It’s a situation where the players are out now for Herediano to prove themselves to a new coach. They’re excited, so they’re playing with a newfound enthusiasm. They’re going to be a very dangerous team.”

Herediano’s previous coach, Alejandro Giuntini, resigned on Sept. 5 after his club suffered a six-game winless streak. Soto, a former Costa Rican international, responded by leading Herediano to a 4-0 rout of Costa Rican Primera División leaders Alajuelense over the weekend. Against Seattle, he’ll try to engineer the same magic for a club that was outscored 7-0 in its first two CCL matches.

Seattle, on the other hand, lost a difficult 2-1 decision to MLS foe Real Salt Lake on Saturday. The loss snapped Seattle’s 11-game home unbeaten streak across all competitions. For Schmid, the key to success lies in showing that the RSL game was a merely a speed bump in the team’s quest for trophies.

“We’ve just got to get right back up on the bicycle and start riding again and show that it was just a hiccup and wasn’t anything long-term for us,” Schmid said.

With a league match against D.C. United looming on Saturday, Seattle left three players at home: Erik Friberg, Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans. However, players like Mauro Rosales and Kasey Keller did make the trip and will be available for selection against Herediano.

Historically, the Sounders have had success on short rest, posting a 14-7-2 record on four days’ rest or less over the past two seasons. For Schmid, the resilience comes down to two factors: players gaining confidence from the rhythm of short rest and the team’s collective mindset.

“I think the other thing is that we just try and focus on the next game,” Schmid said. “We try not to talk about fatigue.

“The only thing we try and focus on is the next task at hand and the next game,” he added. “I think that’s what has allowed our team through every game they play in, no matter how many days rest they have, and they can walk away winners.”

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS