Champions League match offers chance at immediate course correction


At 7 PM on Tuesday night the Sounders will return to play with their earned diversion from the MLS regular season. Unfortunately their CONCACAF Champions League match is against one of the two or three best teams in the region over the past few years.

After a game, or at least a first half, that most of the Seattle Sounders FC would like to forget they quickly return to action on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League play. They do so with little practice, instead acting on instinct and embedded training. The focus will be on execution of their system as they face Liga MX power Santos Laguna (currently 6-2-4 in league play).

When Monday's practice wrapped Coach Sigi Schmid was asked if he needs to correct tactics or the mental focus of the team. "Tactics are great and you can talk about them, but at the end of day you need to execute and execution is concentration," he said.

Brad Evans is ready to get right back out there and put the poor performance against Real Salt Lake behind them. He knows that Seattle does well in this tournament and has unfinished business with Santos Laguna.

"It's always better to get back going. There's not enough time to dwell on what's our current situation with the club and it turns all focus on Tuesday."

After last year's positive result at home against the same opponent and last month's advancement past UANL Tigres the Sounders know that they can win on Tuesday, but they also don't want to push beyond themselves. A clean sheet is more important than a large goals scored win.

The team also looks to not overly alter its approach at the beginning of games, instead merely correcting the failure in the first 45 minutes at Rio Tinto.

"I don't think we want to look into it too much," Steve Zakuani told the media about pressing too much early. "Among players we've had conversations that we've said that we're doing pretty much the same things we've always done. We haven't changed the way we've played. We don't approach the game any less. We don't care less. We aren't trying to lose games. We're trying to win the game. We'll do the same thing tomorrow night. We're going to come out and try to play the way we play football. There are some things that you can't control, but what we can control is how hard we work, how focused we are, how committed we are."

He does say there was one time that the team did not put forward the effort they expect of themselves. "The only time we haven't done that is the first half against Salt Lake. That's the only time when we weren't ourselves. Every other time we tried to play the way we play and it hasn't gone our way."

It is a tricky thing this sport. Playing well does not always mean victory, particularly when so many things considered playing well have no relationship to the scoreline. According to Zakuani this side saw chances at victory in every half but one. That one is recent and signals the low point of an early 2013.

Tuesday that is all behind them. They are underdogs, even at home. The Sounders must come out and play their most Sounder-y match ever. Scattered on this squad are players that beat Monterrey in Monterey. That beat Santos here last year. And of course everyone helped to beat Tigres just a few short weeks ago.

"Tomorrow night I don't think there's any danger of us being overaggressive. We're a pretty smart group, an experienced group," Zakuani reminded the media. "We're going to try to give the game the respect it deserves and try to get the result."

  • Seattle Reign FC players will be meeting fans from 6 PM until the match starts (more details)
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