Let's go ahead and call that match a step in the right direction. Was it far enough? No. But using a lineup that featured seven changes from the weekend, the Sounders managed to hang with one of the best teams in CONCACAF and with a little luck could have actually pulled out a victory.
I'm sure that won't make for much consolation, but the Sounders will head into Torreon, Mexico with at least a glimmer of hope at making history. In order to do that, the Sounders will likely need to score at least two goals. Something as reasonable as a 2-1 win would be enough.
Based on the offense we've seen, that's a mighty hill to climb. The Sounders actually did a reasonable job of controlling possession, strung passes together and were active on defense, but lacked any kind of bite in the offensive third. Sammy Ochoa had a great game in terms of holdup play, but was totally ineffective when it came time to shoot. You could go down the list and say the same thing about almost anyone on the field. Even Mario Martinez showed a certain reluctance to let fly.
That's going to have to change if the Sounders are to break out of this doldrum.
SAN - Herculez Gomez 54'
Seattle Sounders FC - Marcus Hahnemann, DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mario Martinez, Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales 72), Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph (Andy Rose 72), Alex Caskey (Steve Zakuani 78), Sammy Ochoa.
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Lamar Neagle.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Martinez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Alonso, Scott 1); FOULS: 12 (Scott 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 11 (Martinez 5); SAVES: 4 (Hahnemann 4).
Santos Laguna - Oswaldo Sanchez, Felipe Baloy, Jorge Estrada, Osmar Mares, Rafael Figueroa, Rodolfo Salinas, Marc Crosas, Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Herculez Gomez, Oribe Peralta, Carlos Quintero (Mario Cardenas 88).
Substitutes Not Used: Julio Gonzalez, Aaron Galindo, Cesar Ibanez, Edgar Lugo, Nestor Calderon, Candido Ramirez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Quintero 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Quintero 3); FOULS: 16 (Peralta 5); OFFSIDE: 7 (Quintero 3); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Quintero 1); SAVES: 2 (Sanchez 2).
SAN - Juan Pablo Rodriguez (caution) 18'
Referee: Hector Rodriguez
Referee's Assistants: Oscar Velasquez, Christian Ramirez
4th Official: Raul Castro
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Cloudy and 57 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Santos Laguna - April 2, 2013
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the game...) "Obviously it's a home game so you don't want to lose your home game. I thought we didn't play that poorly, I thought we did alright. They're a good team. Obviously they're a very good team. Their front three are as dangerous a front three as you're going to run into anywhere. They got in a few times, but I thought for the most part we held them at bay, which was good. Obviously we were missing some people, so we just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. That's not impossible. It's difficult, but it's not impossible."
(On the lineup...) "[David] Estrada couldn't play because of his eye. Eddie [Johnson] came out of the game [at Salt Lake]-we thought it was just his toe, but he complained of his hamstring, as well. With his hamstring, he couldn't go. Oba [Martins] tried to play in Salt Lake, had a little bit of an injury going into that game and tried to play-something that had bothered him when he played with Nigeria. He felt he could maybe get through it, and that game didn't make it any better, it made it worse. We figured if we tried to play him today, we didn't know how long that would knock him out. Those three guys were not options for us."
(On if those injured players will be available for the second leg...) "We hope Eddie [Johnson] and Oba [Martins] will be able to make it back. With David [Estrada], because it's his eye, there's a concern with him entering activity too early because it's something that could affect his vision, so they're being real careful with him."
(On the play of Shalrie Joseph...) "I think he helps us. He's a good distributer of the ball, I think he finds people forward, but he's another guy who hasn't played a 90-minute game in an awful long time, so he's rounding into fitness. I thought in the first 45 minutes helped us. It sounds like a broken record but it's true-unfortunately we're still trying to get to know each other. Now Shalrie in with Ozzie [Alonso], do they know each other? Shalrie looks to play a lot of first-time balls off and that caught some of the guys by surprise."
(On playing just one forward...) "We felt we only had one forward in [Sammy] Ochoa, so we played Ochoa up. I wanted [Alex] Caskey to be a little bit higher, he sometimes dropped a little deeper, but I wanted Caskey, [Brad] Evans, and Mario [Martinez] to be like the next attacking group. I thought Evans got in a couple times in the first half, but then there were misplays at key moments. Those guys were to join in and link up, but I thought the effort of that group was pretty good."
(On the play of Marcus Hahnemann...) "I thought Marcus was fine. The goal was difficult because it was a misplay from us in the back. As he gets through, [Carlos Quintero] hits a shot, he can't hold that cleanly and then we completely didn't mark up on that side, so obviously Herculez [Gomez] buried his opportunity."
(On if the team's form is improving...) "I thought our play was better than it was against Salt Lake. Obviously if Santos is in our league, I think they're battling for the title. For us to play a team like that who's in form in their season, it was good. Like I said, we were missing some people and put some new people in. For us right now, we're still looking for the right mix."
(On players stepping up tonight...) "I think some guys who had opportunities tonight stepped up and played. We obviously made some changes towards the end of the game to try and ignite it and look for that goal. Did we create more in the last 15 minutes? I don't know. We had a couple of chances, had some corner kicks, got around the box, but offensively I thought our best phase was probably periods of time in the first half."
(On if there is any second-guessing concerning the lineup against RSL...) "Well we could put them all in a bubble and not played any of them on Saturday and then nobody would have been injured for today, but you can't do that. Santos, those guys played on Saturday and they were able to play today and Quintero might have gotten injured for them today. You can't plan on injuries. Players should be able to play two games in succession like that. Oba was the only one we put on the field where he was trying to play because he felt he could get through it and maybe that's when maybe we should have said no. Again, we're at the early stages with him. I don't know him that well, he wanted to try and push through it, so we gave him that opportunity. I think it shows a little bit his character, wanting to be there for us and help our team, but when we looked at things in the MRI that we did on Monday, we felt it would not be wise to play him today. He would have gone out there again today if we would have said yes, but today we made that decision so that he can play."
(On Martins' injury...) "It's a tendon above the patella that's where his quad comes in that's aggravated."
(On improving from the game at Salt Lake...) "I think we worked. I think we worked for each other and didn't pick and choose. That's the important part of the game, you've got to work all the time. It's when the game requires you to work, not when you want to work. We still have to get better in the final third, there's still a lack of movement when we're getting it to crossing positions and dangerous positions, so that's something we still have to work on."
DeAndre Yedlin - Sounders defender
(On Santos' attack...) "They were pretty good. They definitely find the second balls and have good impacting players and it's hard to play against.
(On the game's only goal...) "It happened pretty fast...the ball bounced to their player. He was dribbling and I was tracking back. He shot and Marcus saved it, but Hercules got the rebound.
(On the team's performance...) "That's a really good team, along with Real Salt Lake. I think we're playing pretty well, second half we fell of a little bit. In terms of play we stepped it up a little bit."
(On next week's second game...) "It is a tough place to play, but luckily we get to go in there and give it our all. It's all or nothing, so we can attack, attack, attack, we have to score goals...We're just going to go in there, put in our best attacking lineup, I'm assuming, and try to score some goals."
Zach Scott - Sounders FC Defender
(On playing Gomez and Santos...) "[Gomez] and Santos are a tough team. It is always tough when we play them."
(On team's performance...) "From an effort standpoint, I think that is what we were missing the last couple of games, I think our sharpness and our quality can still come up. You know again it's only five or six games into our season and we are still working kinks out. It wasn't our top lineup, but still a pretty good one that at least gave us a chance to get a result."
(On what it takes for this team to win...) "I think the biggest one is we give ourselves the best chance of winning if we go in there and put in an honest effort. I don't think any of us could have said the last couple of games was the Seattle Sounders we want to represent."
(On reaching top form...) "The results aren't there and we are going through bit of adversity, but you look at teams like LA last year and a couple other teams that have started out slow and it only really matters how you end the season."
Shalrie Joseph - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On team debut...) "It felt great. It didn't go the way we wanted but there are a lot of positives we can take from it."
(On overall effort...) "I think every time we step out there we try to give it 110%. I think tonight we moved the ball well...We definitely created some chances to get a couple of goals."
(On building continuity...) "A lot us didn't practice together yet...It was my first game in a couple of months; you could tell I wasn't as sharp as I would like to be. The more we practice together, the more we work together, I think as I said the sky is the limit and we got to start winning games."
Pedro Caixinha - Santos Lagunas Head Coach
(On how his team was able to force misplaced passes and control the match...) "That happened especially during the second half because we were not so well-organized defensively. Some of them were pressuring others, especially the cover was a little bit too far, so we need to set up some things, and that was one of the major points especially for the second half because if you do that. It was much more easy to have the ball and with the ball. Your games becomes also much more easy. I think those two points combined together make all the difference, especially during the second half."
(On whether he was surprised by the Sounders lineup tonight...) "You know that the goalkeeper was suspended; he was not able to play. We were some doubt especially on the left back. I was expecting that Burch should be playing. But we also know that both strikers could play or not because they were not totally available to perform on the first 11. So after we have a look on the list, we organize our ideas because we have three matches - no, four matches - from the opponent because we need to be prepared and know the opponent deeply. Regarding to that, it was easy. Just after the ball went after the first whistle, we know what we expect, especially from the first half to the second half with those type of arrangements on the team, we became better on the game."
(On his game plan and how his team adjusted in the second half...) "In the first half, we were trying to improve the control of the ball. It was something that we needed to improve on, we needed to work out. At the beginning, it was difficult for us to have control. We were not so aggressive going after the balls and allowed them to have better control in the first half. Also with balls that were set-pieces, where they are strong, they can go after the set-pieces very well and they can go after those balls. For the second half, we tried to improve our cohesiveness inside the team so we can be more compact and we can go after those spaces and control better those spaces, take control of the ball and then after that, take advantage of those areas that are open ones when you have better control of those spaces. It generated multiple different opportunities for us to score. We could have had more than one or two potentially."
Herculez Gomez - Santos Laguna Forward
(On his goal...) "I don't recall whose shot forced a good save out of Marcus Hahnemann, but I was fortunate to get on the end of the rebound, that was pretty much all that happened, after that it was just a blur. It feels good coming back. The objective for us was to come out of it with a win. We wanted to definitely put them on their heels, and definitely try to go at them at home, and set a good tone for the second match. We know they're a good team so we're happy with our performance. Obviously like coach said we could do a lot better, especially on the defensive side of our organization, but we'll take the win."
(On how confident is the team with going home after a win like this...) "I think that is the great thing about our team. This team keeps working for more. Our coaches have kept us pretty humble up until this point. We know that we're playing a good team, and they have done a great job to get here so we have to respect our opponent. By no means is this already assured for the next leg. We still have a lot to play for."
(On his history with the Sounders and the fans...) "I love it. Being called a Sounders' reject, being called any kind of reject digs deep and it fuels fire. I didn't have the easiest go at the beginning of my career so any chance I can get to redeem myself is a good chance. I thought t was a good play on that on my first shot. I thought that Zach Scott did a great job on closing me down and closing that angle to help Marcus Hahnemann out. I couldn't get it quite on frame like I wanted to, but that's part of being a striker, you have to keep working. They always say that the next play is the most important play, so that is what I was looking forward to, and fortunately for us we came out on top."
(On DeAndre Yedlin...) "He's a good player, a good little kid. I told him after the game to keep his head up, I , what is he 19? It's his first year as a professional, he can only get better, he's going to learn, he has a good group of guys around him, I think the Sounders are well coached, and I think he is going to learn a lot. I was impressed with him."
(On his time in Seattle...) "Well I was 21 so I don't remember much. I was here for maybe two months, and it was probably one of the best summers that I have ever had. It was like 50 straight days of sunshine and 70 degrees weather, which is unheard of in Seattle, so I had a blast. Adrian and the Seattle organization are top notch, even back then when they were A league it was impressive. I'm proud of how far they have come, I'm proud of what they have established up here because it is something special around the league. I was proud to be a Seattle Sounder."
(On his reaction from the fans...) "I think the reaction I got from the fans was a pretty good one after the game. Fans were pretty appreciative, and they know that when the 90 minutes were over, I became a national team player again, they let me know how they felt, and that was pretty special."
(Continued...) Absolutely. Brian Schmetzer was a coach, Zach Scott was there. I spoke to him some during the game and asked him how his family was, how he was doing. I know he was one of the few players that have played a decade with the Sounders, and that's pretty impressive playing a decade alone, yet with just one team, I'm happy for him. It's always good to see good people get rewarded in that way. It's good to see old faces you know, Brad Evans and Marcus Hahnemann. Marcus was with me in the World Cu, and I thought he was just hilarious. It's always good to see the guys, and like I said, coming back to the states for me is always special. I enjoy my time in Mexico, but there is nothing like being home."