In a refrain too familiar to Seattle Sounders fans Santos Laguna dominated their home leg in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The Houston Dynamo held a one goal advantage after their home leg, but questionable defense in the first half undid their attempt to join the Sounders in the semifinals.
This result gives Seattle the chance at vengeance for a rather humbling performance in Torreon last year. But both teams are different now. At least three players from the Seattle starting XI will not start in April for the semis. Two of those are DPs no longer here (they were the only goal scorers on the road). Two new DPs will almost certainly be fielded - Joseph and Martins. The rest of the lineup has also shifted significantly with Johnson and Traore as starters and chances at Zakuani, Martinez and Yedlin playing too.
Over the past year things, let's call them psychological things, are a bit different in the Puget Sound. Sigi Schmid and his men won their first ever two-leg MLS Cup Playoff series. Then they won the first two-leg series against a Mexican side since 2002 and first ever in the Champions League. This follows the pattern the developed in CCL play in general. Their first cycle was poor. Their next cycle their finished second in Groups and then lost in the quarterfinals. This current cycle they were perfect in Group play and won their quarterfinals. Psychological barriers are a thing, and there was some evidence that the impregnable nature of Mexico ended when Dallas cracked the door and a week later Seattle repeated. Taking something from impossible to possible is a significant step.
Santos Laguna is not a bad side. They were the two seed to Seattle's three. In the Spring season they are 5-2-3 +6. Their Fall was a mediocre, playoff missing 6-6-5 +0. Herculez Gomez and Oribe Peralta are still their forwards. Oswaldo Sanchez still guards the pipes. American U-20 stars Benji Joya and Daniel Cuevas are emerging from their youth ranks.
Seattle will host leg one between April 2nd and 4th. The away leg will be in Torreon between the 9th and 11th.