Sounders FC quite decent at second legs of knockout ties

Alonso's been with his back against the wall before, he's helped the team win in those cases. - Jane G Photography

Comebacks when down heading into two legs are not rare (they aren't really common either), as Joshua Mayers points out Sunday. Even better Seattle's pretty good in the second leg historically.

Joshua Mayers over at the Seattle Times did a chunk of research and found that in two of the last three seasons teams have come back from a 1st leg deficit they gave up at home. That's the circumstance facing Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday night. They are down a goal with 90 (or 120) minutes to play heading to Portland's Glass House. They need to do this;

As another relevant note, all three comebacks involved the West's No. 4 seed and the No. 1 seed, exactly the same as this Seattle-Portland series. Here is a quick look at the history:

2012 - Los Angeles lost to San Jose, 1-0, at home and came back to win, 3-1, in the road leg.
2010 - San Jose lost to New York, 1-0, at home and came back to win, 3-1, in the road leg.
2006 - Colorado lost to Dallas, 2-1, at home and came back to win, 3-2, in the road leg and then advanced after winning a penalty kick shootout.

Now, we know Seattle struggles in leg one. The memories of blowouts are so strong that we sometimes forget the two nil-nil draws in MLS play. In fact when including the five CCL knockout series Seattle only has two first leg leads in their history. They've advanced four times in the ten total 2-leg knockout series. Only once from a lead. How have they done it? By being pretty good at the second leg with their backs against the wall.

OPPONENT

Leg 1

Leg 2

If Leg 2 v Timbers

Santos Laguna

0-1

1-1

Timbers win 3-2

UANL Tigres

0-1

3-1

Sounders win 4-3

LA Galaxy

0-3

2-1

Overtime 3-3

Real Salt Lake

0-0

1-0

Overtime 2-2

Santos Laguna

2-1

1-6

Timbers win 8-2

Real Salt Lake

0-3

2-0

Sounders win 3-2

San Francisco Panama

0-1

2-0

Sounders win 3-2

LA Galaxy

0-1

1-2

Timbers win 4-2

Isidro Metapan

1-0

1-1

Timbers win 3-2

Houston Dynamo

0-0

1-0

Timbers win 3-1

Total non-Timbers

3-11

15-12

Seattle has some experience at this. Sounders FC have walked themselves to the wall on most occasions. They then succeed, somewhat. Three of the ten times in the past would have Seattle winning in 90 on Thursday. Two more would force the 15&15 extra time, maybe PKs after that.

There is a chance.

Seattle understands the backs against wall mentality. Their front office, coaching staff and players like Alonso, Evans, Gonzalez, Hurtado, Ianni and Scott have been through this many times since 2009. Dempsey, Johnson, Neagle, Joseph and Moffat all have significant MLS Cup Playoff experience as well.

Portland in win or go home games against MLS teams in their three year history (we'll be generous and include US Open Cup)?

Timbers Opponents

Result

If happens Thursday?

Real Salt Lake

1-2

Overtime 3-3

FC Dallas

3-2

Timbers win 5-3

San Jose Earthquakes

0-1

Overtime 2-2

Chivas USA

2-0

Timbers win 4-1

All of those were in the Open Cup and only two under Caleb Porter (who did darn good at Akron and was poor with the US Olympic team).

One could include the Sounders Open Cup data as more proof that they know knockout rounds, but you all know that data. Summing it up, against just MLS opponents if they repeat their 14 matches in leg two they win outright six times, force overtime seven times and fail to advance once.

This is a seasoned team, with earned expectations. But they know how to perform with their backs against the wall.

There is a chance.

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