TORREÓN, Mexico – Herculez Gomez was in the middle of being interviewed in the mixed zone following Santos Laguna’s 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night when Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid spotted him.
Schmid walked over and interrupted the interview, and tapped Gomez (above) on the shoulder. They embraced, and the Sounders head coach wished Gomez the best of luck going forward.
It was a sign of respect from both Schmid and Gomez, and the US national team striker expressed his admiration for Schmid and the Sounders once the interview resumed a few moments later.
“I’ve said from the first day when we knew we were going to play Seattle, that they’re a dangerous team,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve got players that can hurt you on a break. They’re good enough to be here [and] that’s why they’re here.
“We respect them.”
If Santos Laguna respected the Sounders before the game, that feeling likely only grew stronger after Tuesday’s second leg in the CONACAF Champions League semifinal. Seattle had a number of golden opportunities that they failed to put away in the opening minutes, and they dictated the tempo late while scrambling for the goal that would have sent them through and knocked Santos out.
“Credit to them, they made it difficult,” Gomez said. “They pressed, they got their goal, they definitely took it to us in the second half. … I said it before, you give a team like Seattle confidence and they’re going to cause problems, and that was the case.”
READ: Inability to finish dooms Sounders against Santos
With the Sounders now in their rear-view mirror, Gomez and Santos Laguna set their sights back to league play. They host Toluca on Friday night and will aim to continue their success in Liga MX before shifting the focus back to the CCL final against the winner of the other semifinal series betwen Monterrey and the LA Galaxy. It's the second straight appearance in the tournament championship for Santos.
“That’s what this club is all about,” Gomez said. “We consider ourselves one of the bigger clubs in Mexico as far as results and I couldn’t tell you how many finals this team has been in during the last four years.
“It speaks volumes of how serious we take things and just the level of professionalism we have here. It’s very nice to know that I’ll be going into my third final in less than 18 months.”
Franco Panizo can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.