In case you needed some sort of reminder that Concacaf Champions League is nothing if not unpredictable, may I point you to last night’s action. In one match, Liga MX giants Tigres UANL needed a last-minute goal from their goalkeeper to advance past El Salvador’s Alianza and Club America needed penalties to get past Guatemala’s Comunicaciones.
I say that to remind everyone that as comfortable as heading home tied 2-2 may feel, so many things can go wrong in this tournament that we should never feel entirely comfortable until, well, we do. With that in mind, here are the things I’m hoping to see tonight.
Make life easy by scoring early
One way to keep things from getting crazy is to give CD Olimpia life. They are going to be missing two of their best defenders and three players who started the first leg. They are ripe for packing it in and focusing on league play. The best thing the Sounders can do is score a couple of first-half goals and render the second half unimportant.
Get Morris and Ruidiaz some rest
Nicolás Lodeiro and Gustav Svensson have already been ruled out, but might be available for Sunday’s MLS opener. Let’s assume they aren’t though. The Sounders are going to need everyone they can get for that game and the only way that happens is if they get guys like Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz some extra rest. I fully expect both to start tonight, but scoring a couple early goals probably allows Brian Schmetzer to pull them around the 60th minute and hopefully keep them in play for Sunday.
Better centerback play
I don’t want to be too harsh on Xavier Arreaga and Yeimar Gómez Andrade, but there was definitely room for improvement from the first leg. Both players were called on to do a ton of work in the box and looked mostly fine. There were at least a few moments, though, when they looked like two players who only had a few training sessions together (which they were!). Gómez Andrade missed most of training this week, so their familiarity probably hasn’t improved drastically. I’m still hopeful that playing at home helps.
Let Nouhou loose
As usual, there were a few shaky moments from Nouhou in the opener. There were also some moments where he looked ready to break out. My hope is that Nouhou is given some freedom to do his thing and would love to see him wreaking havoc on the Olimpia backline. This is the type of opponent he should feast on.
With Lodeiro and Svensson already ruled out and Harry Shipp only recently recovered from influenza, I suspect we’ll see a replay of the first leg.