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Being Down 1-0 Ain't That Bad, But Sounders Do Have Hill To Climb

Don't worry Sounders fans, the situation is not that scary. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Don't worry Sounders fans, the situation is not that scary. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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One goal down is nothing to be panicked about. After Sunday's game, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid likened it to trailing at halftime, and in a way that makes it sound worse than it actually is. Rather than having just 45 minutes to overcome the deficit, the Sounders will actually have a full 90 when they travel to Los Angeles for Sunday's second leg.

Historically speaking, a one-goal deficit is almost irrelevant in and of itself. Seven of the 13 teams that trailed by a goal after the first leg came back to win.

Unfortunately, that paints a somewhat deceptively bright picture for the Sounders.

Just one of those teams that came back did so while playing the second leg on the road. Although, to be fair, just two teams have finished their home leg trailing by one goal. Nine other series have gone to the second leg tied, and three road teams have emerged victorious in those.

Put another way, of the 22 times the first leg has ended with a goal or less separating the two teams, the road team has emerged from the second leg victorious in nine of them.

Those probably aren't the odds the Sounders would prefer, but they are hardly dire.

"It’s going to be pretty similar because we were trying to win the game on Sunday," Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani said about the team's mindset. "We weren’t playing for a draw. 1-0 is nothing. You have 90 minutes to do that and that’s a long time. It’s just a case of going there and winning. It’s about forgetting that game and playing this game for what it is."

The team from whom the Sounders can draw the most inspiration is the 2006 Colorado Rapids. Like the Sounders, that Rapids team was a No. 4 seed and facing the Western Conference's top seed.

The Rapids lost the first leg 2-1 to FC Dallas and played a scoreless first half of the second leg. Despite being down a man from the 29th minute onward, FC Dallas effectively took a 3-1 lead on a 48th minute goal from Carlos Ruiz. But  Nicolas Hernandez scored a pair of goals for the Rapids to force overtime.

Undeterred by blowing a two-goal lead at home and being a man down, the Hoops got a 92nd goal from Clarence Goodson. Again, the Rapids answered, this time on a 114th minute goal from Clint Mathis. The Rapids eventually won, 5-4, in the sixth round of penalty kicks.

Unlike that Rapids team who had won just twice and were outscored by 17 goals on the road, this Sounders team is a pretty good road team.

The Soundes' six road wins are the second most of any MLS team this season and their -1 road goal-difference was the fifth best mark. Against playoff teams, they went 3-2-2 and outscored their opponents 10-8.

"We’d prefer to be in a different situation, of course, but we’ve shown tremendous amount of resolve of being able to go on the road and get a result," Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. "It’s been a good road team in teh second half of the season and we see no reason why we can’t go down there and get the win."

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