TORREÓN, Mexico – The message from Santos Laguna on Monday was clear: No mercy.
Up 1-0 on aggregate after last week's victory away to the Seattle Sounders in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series, Santos have no intention of sitting back and absorbing the Sounders’ pressure in the second leg at Estadio Corona on Tuesday night (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Instead, the hosts plan on sticking to what has worked for them up to this point in both this competition and in Liga MX play.
“When a team gets an identity, it goes with that identity or philosophy all the way through,” Santos Laguna head coach Pedro Caixinha told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “It’s important to also know the approach about these two-legged games and if you’re at an advantage or disadvantage, but the identity is what’s, for me, the most important thing.
“We’re going to play according to our identity and philosophy, which is from the first whistle looking for the victory.”
The Santos players echoed that sentiment following their training session on Monday evening. Forward Herculez Gomez – who continued to be a big thorn in the Sounders’ side by scoring the lone goal last week – even admitted that scoring first on Tuesday would be vital in helping finish off a Seattle team that, he believes, has the quality to pull off a comeback.
“Goals can either raise your confidence or they can kill it. For us, we want it to raise our confidence,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s going to be instrumental to score goals, obviously, because we don’t want to give any life to Seattle.
“They have some very dangerous weapons and with some confidence they can make things very complicated for us, so it’s important to come out and be offensive and try to score.”
The onus from Santos may be on the offense, but they have not completely ignored their duties on the other side of the ball. On the contrary, the Mexican powerhouse know they need to be tight defensively if they are to end the Sounders’ hopes of advancing.
“The team needs to be aware of where they need to be in possession on the pitch and just to be quick after they lose the ball, to not concede spaces to the opponent to get on the transition,” Caixinha said. “[It’s the] normal the approach on the home matches, with a lot of determination in knowing that nothing is decided and you want to go to the final.”