After watching his team lose the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal to the Seattle Sounders, Chivas coach Matias Almeyda brushed off concerns over fitness and chose to give credit to the opponents.
“I thought our team looked good physically, it was a very dynamic game,” Matias said. “This is a league that many underestimate, but I study soccer and knew we were going to face a team that was very competitive in all their lines, with very fast players, very skilled players, with lots of game through the air, and I thought soccer-wide we were leveled.”
Despite the Sounders’ strong second half, Almeyda did mention his team was unable to capitalize in front of goal and perhaps the game would have changed had they scored in the clear chances they had in the initial minutes of play. The most notable of those came when Alan Pulido got in on goal only to be stopped by Stefan Frei.
Undeniably Almeyda was impressed by what Schmeltzer’s squad showed at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s a very complete team, a team that plays good soccer, distributed the ball well, doesn’t turn it over and transitions quickly,” he said.
Nonetheless the series is far from decided with the result achieved in Seattle, and the team the Sounders face next Wednesday might well be a very different one.
Midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro, Chivas’ leading scorer, did not start the first leg due to an injury and should be back for the return leg.
“Pizarro was dealing with a discomfort in his abductor and was not 100 percent fit to play as a starter, so that’s why I made the modification,” the Guadalajara boss said. “I tried using him in the second half in an attempt to preserve his physical fitness, knowing we have another game ahead of us.”
That likely means Pizarro will start the second leg at Estadio Akron, where Chivas have yet to win this year in league play. We can expect a first-choice lineup — minus Pulido who is suspended — as it is almost impossible that this iconic Mexican team makes the playoffs in Liga MX and CCL is the only competition they have left to play for.