The Seattle Sounders were brutally honest with themselves after last Thursdays 2-1 loss to Salvadorian side Santa Tecla FC in Leg one of the Two-legged CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 knockout stage. They did not play their best and let a golden opportunity slip away.
To make matters worse the Sounders could be without forward Jordan Morris for an extended time due to a reported torn right ACL injury.
After taking a 1-0 lead into the halftime break courtesy of a dream goal by captain Nicolas Lodeiro in the 15th minute the Sounders gave up two second-half goals.
“A game is a game whether it’s in Central America, North America or South America,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer after the game. “Santa Tecla played well. I think we can play better. I can’t blame the astroturf, I can’t blame the travel. My players fought hard, but at the end of the day, they scored two and we only scored one.”
While the two goals were lucky and suspicious, they were both scored by Tecla forward Gerson Mayen in the 67th and 76th minute. A collision in the Sounders goal between two Rave Green defenders left a wide open Mayen for a tap-in. Mayens game-winner was a converted penalty after Chad Marshall was whistled for a soft penalty in the Seattle box.
While the Sounders were missing starters Kelvin Leerdam, Clint Dempsey, Osvaldo Alonso and Roman Torres, Schmezter’s side had some quality players on the pitch who had the ability to accomplish the task. That in its self-was part of the issue, while there were quality players on the pitch the communication and familiarity were lacking.
While they might play in lower league Santa Tecla was out to prove a point against the MLS giants. Sounders Midfielder Cristian Roldan agreed with his coach in that the Sounders let one slip away
“We at times didn’t come to play, and that’s our own fault. The conditions were difficult, we expected that, but Santa Tecla played well and they bossed the game for a bit,” Roldan said after the game.
“It was a difficult game, they controlled most of it and the majority of the chances, but we had that one shot, that one goal that changed the game and we have to be tighter defensively and not let them score those two goals because it changed the series.”
Sounders forward Jordan Morris suffered his knee injury in the 82 minute and the team finished the game with ten men due to the team having used up its allocated three substitutions. While there has been no official word from the Sounders Morris injury is reported to be serious and could take months to health.
“The mathematics are if we win 1-0, we can go through,” said Schmetzer. “We’ll go through all the scores. But at the end of the day, we have to just play a little bit better at home, pick the tempo up, make sure we’re putting pressure on them in the right moments and make them feel our crowd. Make them feel our pressure to make them make mistakes so that we can score some goals.”
Substitutes not used: Hector Ramirez, Alexander Mendoza, Jacobo Moreno, Harold Alas