TUKWILA, Wash. – Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid stood surrounded by reporters on Tuesday, listing off some of the more famous comebacks in recent soccer memory.
Deportivo La Coruña vs. AC Milan. Barcelona vs. Atlético. Liverpool’s three goals in six minutes against AC Milan.
“There’s plenty of examples in the history of soccer where teams can do it,” Schmid said. “It’s just a matter of us coming through and doing it.”
The “it” Schmid’s Sounders need to do is dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole against Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night (10 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com). It’s a monumental task, especially considering RSL’s championship pedigree and the ease with which Seattle were handled on Saturday.
But Schmid wanted to get one message across: “Everything is possible.”
Schmid would know. He was on the wrong end of the greatest comeback in MLS history, back in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals. His LA Galaxy held a 2-0 advantage after the first leg, a lead that was pushed to 4-0 after two early LA goals in the second leg. But Landon Donovan – then of the Earthquakes – got one back just before halftime, and Jeff Agoos scored on the other side of the break.
And suddenly the floodgates opened, and the Quakes rampaged back for a memorable, improbable 5-4 aggregate victory after Rodrigo Faria’s sliding goal in extra time.
“We haven’t talked about that – that was such a weird game,” Schmid said of his pregame prep with Seattle. “I shared some stories with [San Jose coach] Frank Yallop after the game – I know what he said, and if we’re in that situation, maybe I’ll do the same. But it wasn’t any great tactical plan, it was just, ‘Come on guys, we’ve gotta win the ball, we’ve gotta win our duels.”
Getting those floodgates to open on Wednesday will take some doing against an RSL side that didn’t allow a shot on frame in the first leg. Schmid knows it will take some doing – "You can’t score three goals at once," he said – but he’s also aware that throwing numbers forward could invite a lethal counterattack.
“Like I said, it’s a 90-minute game,” Schmid explained. “We want to get the first goal as early as we can, but on the same token, we don’t want to be like a kamikaze and run into an open knife by throwing everything forward in the first 10 minutes of the game, and then take one on the other end of the field.”
Rosales ruled out
The Sounders will once again be without talismanic attacker Mauro Rosales, who Schmid ruled out for Wednesday.
“It’s a situation where Mauro’s tried his best in terms of being able to come back. He’s much further along at the same time point of the injury than he was when he had the injury against D.C. United,” Schmid said. “There’s optimism as we move forward, there’s a chance for Sunday as we go forward from there.
“But for this Wednesday’s game, no.”