CARSON, CA - OCTOBER 22: David Junior Lopes #77 of Chivas USA tackles Brad Evans #3 of the Seattle Sounders in the first half during the MLS match at The Home Depot Center on October 22, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
There are good road teams, and then there are great road teams. In a league so well known for its parity a common practice for teams is to tie on the road and win at home. When the Seattle Sounders travel to Sandy, Utah to take on Real Salt Lake they will defy convention and go for the win. In a two leg series it isn't necessary to win the away leg. A tie would be enough, but when a team earns 32 road points (better than 13 teams in the league at home) that inspires the coach to say the following at practice today;
We're a team that goes on the road to win. We're not a team that goes on the road to tie. In all my years coaching when you put it in your team's mindset ‘OK let's just go out here and get a tie, just get a result, let's just play it close' you take a sometimes the edge of your team. We've been a good road team.
That mindset is echoed in long time Schmid midfielder Brad Evans in his post-practice conversation. He recognizes that Real Salt Lake is a good home team, but doesn't see any reason why the Sounders should be overly intimidated.
We'll have to see what the weather's going to be like, but it should be a bit chilly. There's the altitude and they have some great fans. It's a tough place to play, but we're a good road team.
No team has scored more away from home. None has denied their opposition as many goals. There is little cynicism needed for Seattle. They play their game, regardless of the primary color in the stands. That isn't to say Schmid doesn't recognize that his team has had to come from behind more than is comfortable.
The one goal we've set for ourselves in the Playoffs is that we don't want to take the first goal.
When asked what the primary difference between this season and years past Evans noted the level of maturity of the team. Their drive, determination and experience at seeing things that the younger versions of the Sounders might not have thought they could do. If that early goal is scored against Evans won't be worried.
We've gotten some more confidence over the years. Now if we're down a goal, or even two, we know we've come back and managed to get a result. It may seem like a small thing, but that confidence should help.
Leg one may be at a strong home team's stadium, at a team that is able to put up goals. Seattle has experience with this now. They've won there, in Monterrey, in Central America. There is no need to manage the away leg. Schmid made it quite clear.
... we're going to take what the game gives us. We're not going to bypass chances to go forward and score goals, just for the sake of getting a tie. If we can win we're going to try and get a win. We want to come out with at least a tie.