SEATTLE – To borrow a phrase from NFL coach Dennis Green, Santos Laguna were who Seattle thought they were: loaded with great individual flair and highly dynamic attackers. Now, after earning a 2-1 win over the Mexican club in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series, the Sounders want to make sure they don’t let the Mexican giants off the hook.
“They were not better or worse than we have expected,” goalkeeper Michael Gspurning told MLSsoccer.com. “We were prepared very well for Santos Laguna. . . . It was not a surprise how they played or the quality they had."
Seattle’s new goalkeeper settled in well in his debut, earning four saves in his first competitive match for the club.
Gspurning, who was one of the Sounders players to arrive shortly before kickoff after being delayed by a traffic accident, sounded confident as Seattle prepares to take a 2-1 lead into the deciding leg in Mexico. He complimented the entire team’s defensive performance against a challenging Santos team.
“In the end, it was more stress for me before the game than during the game,” Gspurning said. “We can take the result and go down to Mexico. The away goal was not in our plan but it’s OK. We can beat them down in Mexico… We are in good shape to take something from there.”
With away goals serving as the first tiebreaker, Santos’ tally by Herculez Gomez in the first leg looms large. Should the Mexican side claim a 1-0 victory, Seattle would be eliminated.
With that in mind, it seems that Seattle will need at least one goal on Wednesday. When asked whether Seattle could get that back by getting on the board in Mexico, head coach Sigi Schmid cited his team’s strong road record in CCL play.
“All I know is they have to beat us and I know that in our last three games in qualifying, we didn’t lose on the road,” Schmid said. “We went down to Guatemala, we went down to Costa Rica and we went down to Mexico, so if we can achieve the same thing, we’ll be in good shape.”
“Do I think we are capable of scoring a goal? Yes, I think we’re very capable of scoring a goal,” Schmid added.
Seattle will break up the journey to Mexico, departing Monday and spending most of the day in Dallas before continuing on to Torreón Tuesday.