2012 Mar 7

Sounders open 2012 season with a CCL quarterfinal win against Mexico's Santos Laguna

Seattle Sounders FC  2 - 1  Santos Laguna

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

Goals:
12' SEA: David Estrada (Fredy Montero, Leo Gonzalez)

61' SAN: Herculez Gomez (Marc Crosas)
63' SEA: Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales)

Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Eddie Johnson 78'); David Estrada (Marc Burch 90'), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Patrick Ianni, Servando Carrasco, Christian SivebŠk, Roger Levesque.

Santos: Oswaldo Sanchez; Jorge Estrada, Aaron Galindo, Santiago Hoyos, Osmar Mares; Marc Crosas, Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Rodolfo Salinas 83'), Daniel Ludue˝a (Candido Ramirez 74'); Christian Suarez, Herculez Gomez (Carlos Ochoa 84'), Oribe Peralta.
Substitutes not used: Miguel Becerra, Antonio Olvera, Alberto Garcia, Cesar Ibanez.


Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC opened their 2012 season with a tough challenge, a quarterfinal CONCACAF Champions League match against an in-form Mexican team, Santos Laguna, who were a couple of months into their season. The Sounders won this first leg of the home-and-away series by a score of 2-1. The series will conclude a week hence in Torreon, Mexico.

A crowd of 23,433 showed up on the chilly evening at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders debuted their new third kit, the colorful Super Cyan.

The season's first goal came from an unexpected source, David Estrada, just 12 minutes in. Fredy Montero was quite withdrawn into the midfield when he received a short pass from Leo Gonzalez, estimated the distance, and chipped a diagonal service for Estrada's far-post run. Brad Evans' run drew the attention of defender Osmar Mares, and Estrada ran in behind them unmarked to power a header between goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez and the near post. It was Estrada's first goal in professional competition. 1-0 Seattle.

It was all Seattle in the early minutes. Mauro Rosales had put the first shot on goal, with plenty of movement on the ball, but it corkscrewed right to Sanchez' feet. A Rosales free kick gave Jhon Kennedy Hurtado a header at the spot, but a defender pressured the shot wide. Montero came close with a shoulder shot from a great Adam Johansson line-drive cross, but Sanchez managed to swat the shot wide.

Santos' first chance came at 19' when Herculez Gomez was found open on the right for a low shot towards the far post. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning did well to collapse and push it wide to Johansson, who put the ball out for a corner.

Both sides had a few more chances in the first half. For Seattle, Alvaro Fernandez had a pair, getting time to measure a shot from the left and forcing a save, then later measuring again and bending one a half yard over the top far corner. Gspurning made a fine save when Marc Crosas' rising shot took a slight deflection on the way to goal.

Santos grabbed the momentum early in the second half. The Sounders weathered Santos' possession storm for awhile, then at 61' Gomez' run into the box was served nicely by Crosas and it was Gomewz vs. Gonzalez at the 6-yard line. Gomez settled the ball towards the left post and turned nicely to shoot low to the far post, beating Gonzalez and giving Gspurning no chance. 1-1.

Just two minutes later Brad Evans put Seattle back up when he headed Rosales' 25-yard free kick softly over the keeper and in at the near post. 2-1 Seattle.

The last half hour saw a few chances each way. New Seattle striker Eddie Johnson entered at 78' and soon worked a give and go with Rosales for a header from a good position, but it went well wide of goal.


Statistics:
          SEA   SAN
Shots:     15    12
Saves:      4     4
Corners:    4     5
Fouls:     19    17
Offsides:   0     3

Misconduct:
33' SEA: Hurtado cautioned for tripping
29' SAN: Rodriguez and Mares both cautioned after Fernandez was whacked in the face
58' SEA: Gonzalez cautioned for a reckless challenge after losing the ball
65' SAN: Sanchez cautioned for dissent over a Seattle corner kick
80' SAN: Hoyos cautioned
89' SEA: Estrada cautioned for a reckless challenge

Referees: Walter Quesada (Costa Rica); Leonel Leal, Octavio Jara; Jeffrey Solis

Attendance: 23,433


Post-Match Quotes

Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid

On Santos Laguna: "They're a very good team. I think everyone can see that. They were obviously in midseason form, sharpness and so-forth. So I was really proud of what we did. Getting the early goal was important. It was a good goal by David Estrada, a great ball by Fredy Montero. Being able to score right after they equalized was certainly important to us and to walk away with a victory tonight was important because it means next week they have to beat us. A tie isn't going to be good enough and we always feel very good about going on the road, feel confident and it puts us a week more into our season."

On how he feels Sounders FC came out against a team in midseason form: "We came out OK. It was an interesting beginning today to the game because there was the accident that occurred on I-90 and we had like five [four] players stuck on the wrong side of that accident. So we were nip and tuck going in, we were nip and tuck on, 'Are we going to have to change the lineup?', 'Are they going to get here on time?' So some guys got short-changed on their warm-up time a little bit, but as we always say whatever the obstacles are we're just going to deal with them and we deal with the adversity and we move on. So as a result I think most of the guys were OK with it. I think it did affect one or two of the players where they were still a little distraught over what had happened. I thought we came out and we were sharp, we had some good combinations early on in the game. Mauro Rosales - he was very dangerous in the early parts of the game. I thought him and Johansson combined well on that right-hand side. I thought David Estrada did a lot of work and opened up a lot of spaces for us. I was pleased with what we did early on."

On Eddie Johnson's Sounders FC debut: "It was good. You could see Eddie is a good player. He brings some calm to the game. He settled the ball and connected his passes. His speed is certainly going to be a danger - was that a foul or a good tackle early on is for others to decide. He's going to help us. He's a skillful player, he's got speed and he almost got the goal off the header as well. I think he's going to help us for sure."

On getting the lead back shortly after Santos equalized: "Well, thanks to Brad's broad shoulders...was that a header or a shoulder? All I know is that it went in and it went over Sanchez. It's something, it's a character that we displayed last year and it's a character that still sits within this team and the desire to do well sits within this team. I said before the game that for us a large part of tonight is going to be about our mentality because we weren't going to be as sharp as them and I think our mentality showed through. It showed through by scoring right after they scored. It also showed through that overall I thought we were a little bit better organized defensively in the second half and it showed through by us being able to match it through the end of the game."

On David Estrada: "I thought he was very good. I'm so happy for David because it's been a lot of years at work. I've always felt when I saw him play as a freshman at UCLA that he's a very talented, gifted forward and for some reason over the three years at UCLA he became a midfielder somehow. We sort of drafted him with the thought that he could be a forward again and he wasn't comfortable with that anymore, so we ended up playing him in different places. But at the start of this season we decided let's let him go back up there again. I'm very happy for him because nobody works harder. Nobody is more committed than he is. Nobody wants it more. For him to get the goal, to play in this game and to score against Santos Laguna, being a guy who was born in Mexico, I think was huge for him. I'm very, very happy for him today."

On establishing a physical level of play: "You have to. You're committed into the game and it's going to be passionate. You've got to be smart. You don't want to get anything stupid, you don't want to get any dumb yellow cards and you don't want to let them take you out of your game. That's an important aspect of it, but certainly you have to let them know that we're here to compete as well. Again, they're a good team. They're a proud team and they're going to compete. We need to make sure that we compete equally as hard."

On how much the players were delayed getting to the stadium because of the traffic on I-90: "They got into the locker room just about the time that we were supposed to get on the field to warm up - about 6:30 p.m., or 6:25 p.m., something like that. One player was even about four minutes later than that. So normally where you get in the locker room and you can relax a little bit, you can take your time, you can walk around, get some water - a lot of those guys didn't hydrate the way they normally do before a game, etcetera. It just changed our routine, but we got through it."

Brad Evans

On winning the first game: "I think the guys are confident right now. Obviously we wanted to have the shutout and not let that one goal go in, but to respond and get the second goal gives us even more confidence going down there. We know that they have to beat us and I can tell you that nobody is scared to go down there. We have done well anywhere we played away from home last year."

On his goal: "For a number of weeks now we have been going over set plays and as long as our runs are committed the ball is going to be there. The balls from Mauro are always consistent and if you make good hard runs then the ball will be there for you. At that point I think we had made several corner kicks with the same run over and over again so we decided to go near post where I had a mismatch. I felt that was the time so I made a good hard run and I was fortunate with a couple different bounces, but the most important part was that it went in."

Alvaro Fernandez

On the physicality of the game: "We knew that it was going to be a fun game, a very physical game. Fortunately everything went well and we were able come out with a very good game and we got the win."

On the success in the beginning of the game: "We were planning on moving the ball from side to side really quickly, and that's how the goal came. A good pass from Fredy and a good header. That was the plan and we were very successful at the beginning."

On the core group of returning players: "There have been a lot of changes this year, but still there are eight or nine players that are still the core of the team. We have been playing together for a little over a year now. The new guys that came to the team gotten have into the rotation very quickly."

Mauro Rosales

On the game: "We handled the game for 90 minutes. We thought if we kept pushing them we could score another goal, but they already scored once and we didn't want to give up another in the first game of the series. Now, we have to go there with the same intensity that we came with on the field today - be very aggressive, concentrate, and try to get a good shot for a goal."

David Estrada

On scoring his first competitive goal: "I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity given to me early on in the season. In my first start, to get a goal is really big for me - not only for the team, but for myself, too."

On the scoring in such a big game: "I didn't really read too much into that. It was more coming out here and trying to show the coaches and fans that I can play here, and luckily things went my way."

On the adjustments he's made and potentially having a breakout year: "Just trying to prepare myself before each training, before each game. I thank my teammates - Fredy, Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Leo Gonzalez - all the guys that kind of guide me through preseason. Thanks to them."

Santos Laguna Head Coach Benjamin Galindo

On the hand ball at the end of the game: "We all saw it but he is the one who decides. He said that it was the last play so he couldn't call it. If he had said that he didn't see I understand, but claiming it was the last call ... that's not acceptable."

General comments on being in Seattle: "We knew the team we were going to face, they are a strong team with a great crowd. This team can play with any team in Mexico."

On bench experience, especially Ramirez: "It's an important game and when you talk about young players like that you have to start them little by little. When opportunities arise, you put them in."

Locker room environment and playing two competitions at the same time: "The feeling in the locker room is optimistic, we know this is the first leg and we end at home. We are also aware there are strong teams in the tournament so we have to manage well. Also, must give opportunities to our players in order to boost their confidence and we know that we can do that. And ... course we want to win in both competitions."

Did you get what you expected from the Sounders FC: "We got what we expected. Now we know that we have the following game at home, in our pitch. It's a great opportunity to have the fans on our side which is important to our players."

What do you tell the players when you review the video tapes: "We have to concentrate the most at times like when we tied. Sometimes the gaps after these moments can go for one, two, three minutes and sometimes even longer. We can't allow that. We made an important play and you've got to keep the concentration the most at those moments."

Herculez Gomez

On the goal in the 61st minute: "I saw Marc, he's a smart player and I trusted that he could get it to me. We were fortunate."

On the history with Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid: "I think it's behind us and am disappointed it took away from what the headline should have been. The Sounders have a great fan base with something really special going on here. That should have been the headline, a great game."

On the team mindset going forward: "I don't think we should be too confident, but we're not that easy to play at home either. We have a great fan base and are undefeated at home. We have a big game coming up with home field advantage."