Apr 2, 2013, 11:05 AM EST
Seattle could do something next to impossible over the next few days, executing a high wire act in high wind against Mexico’s powerful Santos Laguna.
It could happen.
But if we’re being honest, there is no compelling reason to like the Sounders’ chances in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series that begins tonight in the Pacific Northwest. Kickoff on Fox Soccer Channel is set for 10 p.m. ET.
Sigi Schmid’s team is struggling mightily in MLS, anchored to the bottom of the Western Conference standings with one measly point from four matches. Last week’s early capitulation in Utah sounded the loudest alarm bells.
And there’s some butt-ugly history here, a painful moment that might just qualify as the worst memory for Sounders supporters since the club joined MLS in 2009. Seattle took a 2-1 lead to Torreon, Mexico, against this very same Santos side. Optimism ran high that Schmid’s Sounders could get the result and move on that evening last March – but the wheels flew off this moving vehicle spectacularly.
Santos tore the Sounders apart, brushing aside the visitors in a 6-1 result.
Credit the Sounders for putting that one behind them and going on to have a highly credible MLS campaign. But the team still wears the scars of that ambush in Torreon, and they will carry that baggage tonight, heavy with the knowledge that conceding so much as one goal at CenturyLink Field could undo this year’s Champions League efforts.
Odds of keeping the visitors off the board take a hit because steady goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Considering his heroic play over the weekend, that’s a huge bummer for the 20,000 or so expected around the rave green ground for this one.
So Marcus Hahnemann, the longtime third-choice U.S. man, is on the spot tonight. That’s not bad. There’s no chance he’ll buckle beneath the weight of this thing, but his shot-stopping and ability to get off his line – good as it looked in preseason – won’t match Gspurning’s.
As for personnel in front of Hahnemann: Patrick Ianni remains out, which means Jhon Kennedy Hurtado will be back in the lineup at center back – and fans can only hope he gets his act together for this one. Hurtado was pretty bad in Saturday’s loss to Real Salt Lake.
At the other end, forward David Estrada appears to be out. That wouldn’t be such an issue except that Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins are questionable, too.
Again, it could happen. But Schmid’s team needs supreme focus in the back, plus something special on the offensive end in order to set up any reasonable chance in next week’s return leg in Mexico.
Dec 27, 2014, 1:25 PM EST
It took 18 matches this season for a Premier League manager to get sacked. Are there more coming in the near future?
Dec 27, 2014, 12:32 PM EST
How and where to watch every PL game live and online during Week 19.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:55 AM EST
First meets fourth at St. Mary’s as Chelsea look to keep their lead at the top of the table.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:05 AM EST
The Premier League has seen 470 goals hit the back of the net so far, and we’ve narrowed it down to the top five.
Dec 27, 2014, 10:33 AM EST
Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino discuss why the title will end up at Stamford Bridge, and which team from Manchester will finish in second.
Dec 27, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
As we near the halfway point of the season, check out who has been the best player in the Premier League.
Dec 27, 2014, 9:05 AM EST
Spurs look to make it four straight wins but face a United side that looked dominant on Boxing Day.
Dec 27, 2014, 8:16 AM EST
The French striker was sent off for head-butting Nedum Onuoha, a decision his manager could not disagree with.
Dec 27, 2014, 7:32 AM EST
After 16 matches in charge, Neil Warnock becomes the first Premier League manager to get sacked this season.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:42 PM EST
Chelsea players weren’t happy with the weekend training schedule, so Mourinho fixed it for them. Now it’s even worse.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Neil Warnock is reportedly close to becoming the first managing casualty of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Dec 26, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
11 names make up one team after half of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Dec 26, 2014, 5:58 PM EST
“I believe that Cristiano will finish his career at Real Madrid.”
Dec 26, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
Many high-flying striker arrivals in MLS can be met by a fair bit of caution, but Vancouver should be quite dangerous if Rivero can make it work.
Dec 26, 2014, 4:26 PM EST
Ronald Koeman is happy to be back in a Champions League place, but sees long road ahead for Southampton.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
Brendan Rodgers feels Liverpool’s Old Trafford defeat may have been a turning point in the Reds’ season.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:19 PM EST
The Red Devils scored three but could’ve netted quite a few more in an easy win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Recaps, reaction, analysis and more from all 10 games in the PL on Boxing Day.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:23 PM EST
The Gunners climbed to within two points of fourth-place Southampton.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Citizens not thinking about Chelsea, as their rampage continues.
- With Warnock out, who is the next manager to go? 0
- WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 19 0
- VIDEO: Premier League title is Chelsea’s to lose 0
- Neil Warnock sacked by Crystal Palace 0
- VIDEO: Meet your Premier League Team of the Year, at the season’s halfway mark 1
- Premier League roundup: Boxing Day madness as Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool win (video) 0