TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders took a calculated risk. Now, it’s time to see if it pays off.
The Sounders are coming off a disappointing result in their MLS season opener against LAFC at CenturyLink Field on Sunday – a match they lost 1-0 courtesy of an 11th-minute golazo from Diego Rossi. But they also didn’t field a first-choice lineup, opting instead to save a handful of their regular starters for the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Liga MX side Chivas de Guadalajara at CenturyLink on Wednesday (10 pm ET | UDN, go90).
Former Sounders midfielder and current assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda knows his team’s upcoming CCL opposition well, having played in Liga MX for most of his career, including a stint with Chivas from 2006-2013.
While Chivas have struggled in league play so far in 2018, currently residing 16th out of 18 on the Liga MX table with a 1-5-4 record through 10 matches, Pineda says based on the film he’s seen those numbers don’t accurately reflect how they’ve played.
SeatGeek has great deals for future MLS matchesGET TICKETS Official Ticketing Partner of Major League Soccer
“Yes, I think they are better [than their record],” Pineda told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s home leg. “They have a really dynamic team, especially in CONCACAF we can see what they did against [Dominican Republic side] Cibao [in the Round of 16] — 5-0 at home and 2-0 away, so they have a very competitive, young, dynamic and talented team. So, I know them and I know they are better than their numbers say.”
With that in mind, Pineda said he thinks the Sounders will need all the firepower they can get to put themselves in the best position to advance to the CCL semifinals – something that contributed to Seattle’s decision to rest star forward Clint Dempsey against LAFC on Sunday.
“I think that’s very important,” Pineda said. “But at the same time, it’s a tricky one because if you concede one goal, the away goals are the first tiebreaker. So, it’s good to try to win but at the same time it has to be a clinical defensive shape because we cannot concede that goal at home.”
That could be easier said than done, however, against a Chivas side that has a capable attack of its own, with Pineda citing Guadalajara striker Alan Pulido and winger Rodolfo Pizarro as key players that Seattle’s backline will have to focus on neutralizing.
“I scout [Liga MX] all year long so I know very much about Chivas especially because I follow them very closely,” Pineda said. “I think it’s a very dynamic team, they have fast players on the flanks and the fullbacks, they go high, box-to-box players. The wingers are always fast, good playmakers in the middle – they have a really good midfield, good strikers, so it’s going to be a really challenging team to beat.
"But I’m confident in the team we have, the players we have, and of course hopefully we can have a good result at home.”