By John Boyle
The good news for the Sounders? The effort was considerably better Tuesday than it was in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.
The bad news for the Sounders? They still lost, dropping the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal 1-0 to Santos Laguna.
The worse news? Santos Laguna is really, really good in Torreon, Mexico, which is where Seattle heads Tuesday needing a win to get to the Champions League final. Santos beat Seattle 6-1 at home last year to erase a 2-1 deficit in the quarterfinals of this tournament, and best Toronto FC 6-2 at home in the semifinals. In this year’s quarterfinals, Santos beat the Houston Dynamo 3-0 at home after losing 1-0 in Houston.
“We now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “That’s not impossible; it’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”
In other words:
All kidding aside, the Sounders are fighting a big uphill battle to stay alive in this tournament, but their improved effort could pay dividends down the road in league play, even if they can’t win in Mexico next week.
“We worked,” Schmid said. “I think we worked for each other. We 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’ve still got to get better in the final third, there’s still a lack of movement when we’re getting into crossing positions and dangerous positions, so that’s something we still have to work on.”
Tuesday also marked the Sounders debut of midfielder Shalrie Joseph. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“I feel great. I’m disappointed the result didn’t go the way we wanted, but there are a lot of positive things we can take from it.”
“Tonight we moved the ball well in certain areas, but we weren’t creative, especially in that attacking third. We weren’t creating enough in that attacking third… we’ve just got to be better overall.”
On his play: “I wasn’t as sharp as I would like to be, I haven’t played in four and a half, five months, but it felt great getting that first game under by belt, and I look forward to next week.”
Oh, and one last thing, Sounders fans… Those chants of “Sounders reject” you are sending Hercules Gomez’ way? Maybe not the best idea. It seems like it’s all in good fun, Gomez said he loves being back here, and said the fans were great to him after the game, but the former A-League Sounder is killing MLS teams in this tournament, and especially the Sounders, who he scored against Tuesday, and against whom he had three goals last year in two games. So feeding him a little extra motivation may not be so wise.
“I love it,” he said of the jeers. “Being called a Sounders reject, any time of reject, it digs deep, it fuels the 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.”