History on the Horizon — Sounders/Santos Leg Two Preview

Jane G Photography via Sounderatheart.com
Mario Martinez’s free role in the attack last week lead to a few good chances for the Sounders. Much like Fredy Montero used to do for the Rave Green, maybe tonight is the night for Martinez’s flare and skill to step into the limelight.

History is meant to be repeated.

Tonight, Seattle Sounders FC will attempt to do just that as they look to get only their second victory on Mexican soil as they face off against Santos Laguna in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

This feat — as unlikely as it sounds — is not impossible. In fact the Sounders are one of only two MLS clubs to win a game in Mexico (FC Dallas being the other) when they defeated a full-strengh Monterrey club in the group stages of the last CCL cycle. Unfortunately in the “what have you done for me lately” column, the Rave Green’s last trip south of the border resulted in a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the very team they’ll face tonight in last season’s CCL quarterfinal.

The bottom line though is that Seattle have tasted success in Mexico before, and will need to do so again tonight to continue this magical run through arguably the third most difficult continental club tournaments in the world.

The result for manager Sigi Schmid and Co. is a simple one — any win whatsoever and there’s no way Santos can win on aggregate after 90 minutes. One week ago, Santos walked out of Seattle with the 1-0 first leg victory — if the Sounders can match that mark, the match will go into extra time (two 15 minute periods with no “Golden Goal”). On the other hand if the Sounders win by any score other than 1-0, they’ll win on aggregate based on either their total goals scored being higher (a two goal margin of victory for example) or on road goals (if Seattle wins 2-1, the aggregate would be 2-2, but Seattle would have scored two road goals to Santos’ one). So the simplest way to watch tonight’s match is hope for any sort of Seattle victory and then listen to the announcers if there’s any confusion on the tie-breaking process.

In that match, there will be no Obafemi Martins as the Nigerian DP is getting a knee injury looked at currently and is therefore unavailable. One piece of good news for Sounders fans though is it appears Eddie Johnson is healthy enough to go tonight in Torreón, and may even start which would very much help with that whole getting a goal thing this squad has struggled with this season.

Seattle has come back from 1-0 first leg deficits before — in fact look no further than the quarterfinal match against Tigres where the Rave Green not only came into the second leg down a goal, but conceded first in the second leg to go down 2-0 before winning 3-1. Getting this win can be done, history has shown us that. But history does not play for either side, so we’ll leave it up to the 11 men on the pitch for the Sounders to get it done tonight and move onto the CCL finals.

Projected Starting XI (4-1-4-1)— This is a crapshoot tonight, as we’re still unsure of how much EJ will play along with a few other wildcards including the fact that Brad Evans did not travel with the team due to his calf injury.In the good news department, the Sounders will have Michael Gspurning back in net tonight. If we do see the lineup below, expect a lot of interchanging from Rosales and Martinez, and Joseph to sit much deeper than Evans would as a CM.

GK – Michael Gspurning
CB – Djimi Traore             CB – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
RB – DeAndre Yedlin                      LB – Leo Gonzalez
CDM – Ozzie Alonso
RM – Mauro Rosales                LM – Steve Zakuani
CM – Shalrie Joseph      CM – Mario Martinez
FW – Eddie Johnson

Where to watch — Tonight’s match is again being broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel, this time at 5 p.m. PST.