SEATTLE -- Holding a slim 1-0 lead after the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round matchup with Metapán, Seattle Sounders FC now travel to El Salvador next Tuesday in an attempt to make the group stage of the tournament.
According to Metapán’s coach Edwin Portillo, he had hoped his team could escape Qwest Field with a draw. They nearly did, with the exception of the error by goalkeeper Misael Alfaro, who let Fredy Montero’s long-range knuckler sneak past him. Now, Portillo must change his tactics as the series shifts to Central America.
“We will have to change the tactics we have, I suppose, to score two goals.” Portillo said through a translator. “That always comes with more risk, but…we don’t have any other alternative. We will have to expose ourselves in our own country to obtain a result and keep breathing in the tournament.”
Down 1-0, Metapán will need to score at least once against Seattle to continue in the Champions League, but a concession of an away goal would mean the Salvadoran club would need to score three goals to stay alive.
Interestingly, the game in El Salvador will not take place at Metapán’s home field. CONCACAF did not certify the team’s stadium, meaning the match had to be moved to a venue in the country’s capital city of San Salvador.
Portillo was disappointed by the governing body's decision, noting that his team has a considerable unbeaten streak on its home ground. However, CONCACAF believed the club’s lighting did not cover the playing surface evenly, necessitating the change.
Because the match is on a weekday and the club comes from a municipality outside the capital, Portillo expects a smaller crowd of around 3,000 fans.
Seattle play at San Jose in MLS action on Saturday and will fly directly to El Salvador from the Bay Area.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said he had hoped to rest his stars today, but was forced to insert Steve Zakuani and Montero after Seattle failed to find the net. The move paid off with a goal, but it may be asking a lot for the Sounder’s primary goal-scoring threats to play against San Jose and then again on Tuesday in El Salvador.
One player who should be relatively fresh is Blaise Nkufo. Seattle’s new Designated Player did not dress for this match and watched the game from upstairs.