Djimi Traoré last played a competitive match almost exactly a year ago. Luckily for the Seattle Sounders, he didn’t look very rusty upon his return.
The veteran of 16 European seasons made his Sounders debut, playing center back in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Tigres UANL.
“I thought Djimi did well,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think he helped us in securing our defense, organized us well, cleared the ball when he needed to. He had good calm and composure back there and that helped us.”
While obviously not the ideal result, Traoré and the rest of the defense was good enough to give the Sounders a chance when the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal returns to Seattle next Tuesday, March 12.
“Away from home, to lose 1-0, we're still in the competition,” Traoré said. “I think we had a good game, we defended well. Now we need to think about the second leg and try to do everything to win that leg and go through.”
It was a classic “bend, don’t break” defense as Seattle gave up 18 shots and yielded 65 percent of possession.
The Sounders are well aware they’ll need to improve upon that performance if they are to become the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent from this competition since its reorganization in 2008.
“We need to play better soccer,” Schmid said. “We need to do a better job possessing the ball. We need to create attacking movements of our own. We need to play with that confidence. We need to put more pressure on their midfield so that we can win the ball back a little bit sooner. Early in the game we turned the ball over at times when we shouldn't have turned it over, so we need to make sure we avoid those.”