A home opener has never meant so much. That statement demonstrates the odd nature of scheduling and success that led to Seattle Sounders FC competing in the CONCACAF Champions League to start their 2012 multiple-tournament season. One could even say that this match against Santos Laguna is the result of the 2010 Sounders success, as it was their Open Cup trophy that year that qualified them for the current tournament.
Two years later and Seattle has a mix of new bodies and returning veterans from that campaign. Only six of the players to take the pitch in the 2010 Open Cup Final win are still on the team, but that includes two Designated Players (Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez), two defensive leaders (Jeff Parke, Osvaldo Alonso) and two frequently used subs (Patrick Ianni and Roger Levesque). That core will be supplemented by newer Sounders like Mauro Rosales, Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, almost certain to appear sub Christian Sivebaek, and once grand in MLS Eddie Johnson. Regular participants Brad Evans, Leo Gonzalez and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado will almost certainly start this evening as well. Also looking to figure into a major role in the two leg series is 2010 draftee David Estrada.
It is a roster ith a bit of churn, but it is also a roster that is used to international competitions. The Sounders will be playing their 17th CONCACAF Champions League match tonight. Scattered through the team are players and coaches with other international experience, including Sigi Schmid who won the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup. From Joe Roth to the coaching staff, through the players to the fans, the organization has stated that winning a CCL title is a major goal.
Standing in their way is one of the best teams in Mexico -- Santos Laguna. The Saints are a team with international glory in mind as well. While they put up goal numbers against their Mexican opposition, they also give up goals. Their rapid-counter attack is fluid and mobile, but could be blunted by a stout Sounders defense. In fact Seattle gave up fewer goals in previous 2011-12 Champions League matches than Santos did. There is opportunity as well in that Santos flew in only yesterday, landing less than 24 hours prior to the match. They are historically a significantly worse team on the road than at home, losing two of their four CCL away matches in the current cycle. Back in 2010 they even lost to the Columbus Crew in Ohio.
There's a chance. It will take a great game from Seattle. There is a slight advantage to play along Seattle's preferred in the attack right side. There is a possibility of a surprise start by Eddie Johnson who looks to reinvent his career. There is going to be a dry chill in the air, a historical issue for sides from Mexico traveling North. There is a chance that Alonso shuts down an amazing attack. There is a chance for a moment of brilliance by Montero, Rosales, Fernandez.... There's a chance, and that's all you can ever hope for as the underdog.
The game is on Fox Soccer and CONCACAF.com (national) and 97.3FM with Ross Fletcher (no Keller) on the call at 7:00 PM.
- Respond to the Counter
- Utilize Gaps in Right Side
- Strong Secondary Runs
- Home Shutout
- Fredy Montero v Oswaldo Sanchez
- Parke/Hurtado v Oribe Peralta
- Mauro Rosales v Cesar Ibanez
How We're Watching
Beverage: Brougham Bitter at Temple Billiards
Scarf: Nos Audietis 2012
Kit: 2009 Long Sleeve Shale Trainer and many other layers
Where I'm Watching: 214
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