Santos Laguna is a very good home team. The Seattle Sounders are a good road team, maybe even very good. After leg one the Sounders hold a few advantages though -- they have a two-one aggregate lead, they are rested and they are ready to make history. Santos Laguna played over the weekend. They won, but used a lineup very similar to the one that lost to Seattle.
On that first leg Santos tried to flood the middle while freeing the very in-form Herculez Gomez up to be a free roaming high right winger. On defense they set Galindo deep to combat the high pressure and speed of David Estrada. It is notable that this average position map is for the first 30 minutes of the match only, as besides the backline and Gomez there was so much interchanging that the other five players would be almost one dot.
FMFStateOfMind answers two more questions in light of the circumstances of leg two and provides a little bit more preview. You can read the three questions for leg one to review what set-up Seattle to enter leg two with a lead.
SaH: What makes Santos Laguna so much better at home?
FMFSoM: Like most teams, Santos has played better at home this season. They haven't lost in their six league games at Estadio Corona this year, while on they road they have dropped two of four (not to mention last week's CCL loss in Seattle). But that said, this is certainly not one of the more intimidating venues in Mexico. Santos fans just aren't as crazy as those from some of the other successful clubs. Nobody is going to confuse Estadio Corona with El Volcan in Monterrey, for example.
Wednesday night's match against Seattle will likely have an even more subdued atmosphere than usual, just by virtue of the anticipated smaller crowd. It hasn't been easy for Santos to sell tickets to a midweek CCL match (and Santos is by far the only team to have this problem), so the club has been running a lot of extra promotions. There was a 2 for 1 deal offered last week, with those buying a ticket to the Puebla also getting ticket to the Wednesday CCL match. Most regular tickets for the Seattle game are also going for at least half off. But even with these extra deals I would still be surprised to see much more than a half full stadium (barring a huge rush for tickets on Wednesday before the game).
SaH: Did anything about the last match surprise you?
FMFSoM: The Santos backline did not play that well. Some of that wasn't a surprise -- I thought the left side of the defense would struggle, and they did (leftback Osmar Mares has been a reoccurring thorn in the side of Santos this season). But there were other issues as well. Against Puebla this past weekend Santos started the same lineup that played against Seattle, except for Felipe Baloy taking the place of Aaron Galindo at centerback. Baloy, if he plays against Seattle on Wednesday, will offer significant help in defending set pieces and balls in the air – something that Santos had a bit of trouble with last week.
On the other end I thought there would be more attacking pressure from Santos in the first leg. Seattle did play a role in that, as the Sounders obviously did a great job of controlling the midfield and holding possession. The second leg may play out a little differently, though, with Santos now down on the scoreboard. The home team will be out to score early and often to take some of the pressure off. I would be surprised if Seattle can hold Santos again to just a single goal. If they do, they will definitely have to find a way to stop Herculez Gomez. Gomez has been on fire over the past couple weeks now that he’s become a regular in the Santos starting lineup. After scoring against Seattle, he added two more on Saturday against Puebla.
As a reminder, the winner of this series will face the winner of Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy. Oh, and there's a party or something.