Sounders FC knows it can’t advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals unless the team scores a goal against Tigres UANL on Tuesday.
But the Sounders also know almost as certainly that they won’t advance if they allow a goal.
CCL rules favor away goals. And since Seattle didn’t score last week in the opening 1-0 loss in Monterrey, Mexico, that means not all one-goal wins would carry equal weight in the return match at CenturyLink Field.
If the Sounders win, 1-0, the series would continue for 30 minutes of extra time, and perhaps on to penalty kicks. However, a 2-1 win by the Sounders wouldn’t do the same. That would even the total goals at two each, but Tigres would advance on the strength of one road goal.
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So the bottom line is that if Tigres score at all Tuesday, the Sounders can advance only if they win by at least two goals. That would require a minimum of three goals from a team that hasn’t scored yet this season.
“We talked about it,” coach Sigi Schmid said after the loss. “We know that we’ve got to keep a clean sheet in the back – that that’s important for us.”
No one is more aware than veteran goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. However, Gspurning doesn’t think the special challenge should necessarily be met by any special defensive mentality.
“To put more pressure on it would be negative,” he said Sunday, after the Sounders trained at CenturyLink. “We always want to play to zero in the back, so that does not change in this case. We know that we have to keep working … and play better soccer all together, and then we will see what the game brings.”
Seattle has allowed one goal in each of its two games this season. The Sounders opened their Major League Soccer season with a 1-0 loss to Montreal and followed that with the 1-0 CCL loss at Tigres.
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado started both matches at one central defender spot. However, the other central defender assignment switched. Zach Scott played against Montreal before shifting to right back at Tigres, with newly acquired European veteran Djimi Traore making his Sounders debut alongside Hurtado.
“I think they all understand the position,” Schmid said. “We have a pretty simple plan for them, in terms of what we need them to do, and how we need them to play in terms of our wide midfielders. We need them to stay central and lock down that middle. Jhon has been good about moving over to the left side when he played with somebody who would prefer (playing) on the right, and he’s been good about moving to the right when he plays with somebody who prefers the left.”
Schmid didn’t commit to a center back pairing for Tuesday. However, Traore thinks his play will improve with experience alongside his new teammates.
“I try to find my place in that team and I try to work hard in every session in training (and to) treat my teammates well,” Traore said. “I think in a few games I will be much better at understanding everybody and everybody will understand me.”
Tigres went with a first-choice lineup in its 2-1 Liga MX victory at San Juan on Saturday. Schmid said he does not expect that match to limit the Tigres’ lineup much this week. … Right back Adam Johansson (knee) and midfielder Shalrie Joseph (calf) were ruled out of the Tigres match. Midfielder Steve Zakuani (ankle) and forward David Estrada (ankle) trained Sunday, but their status for Tuesday has not been determined.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer