The Sounders hope they've learned their lesson when starting a two-game series on the road. History hasn't been good heading into a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Tigres UANL, the top team in Mexico
To put it kindly, Sounders FC has not fared well in two-game series.
Seattle is 3-5 in such playoff rounds in MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League — an international tournament for top club teams in the region — and the next one starts Wednesday in a CCL quarterfinal against Mexico’s Tigres UANL.
The numbers get worse when the Sounders start the series on the road. The scenario has happened three times, and the last two resulted in a 3-0 loss in the opening game — first, in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals against Real Salt Lake, and again last year in the conference finals against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
So how much will history come up as the team travels south?
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“It will definitely be strongly impressed upon them over the next two days,” coach Sigi Schmid said matter-of-factly.
And what was there to be learned from those past experiences?
“It’s like if somebody throws you in a pool and you can’t swim,” Schmid said. “You either figure out that you want to learn to swim or you don’t go in the pool again. So for us, we’ve had bad results in the first leg of some two-leg series, so we either have to turn that around or just not make the playoffs anymore.”
“I think the team would rather take the first approach of learning how to deal with it, so it’s important to us to bring resolution to how we approach Game 1 and bring a more mature approach as the game’s going on.”
The task won’t be easy against Mexico’s best team, which boasts the only undefeated record in Liga MX (6-0-3).
Though it does get a little easier with Tigres forward Emanuel Villa out the next several weeks due to a leg injury. The 31-year-old Argentine leads the league in scoring with eight goals in eight games played.
Schmid said Villa is “an important part of their team, but the other 10 guys are the same guys that have been starting every game. … There are so many pieces that understand each other that it’s probably not as difficult just to replace that one piece.”
• Forward David Estrada, who missed Saturday’s MLS opener with an ankle injury, traveled with the team Monday and could be available. Midfielder Shalrie Joseph stayed in Seattle to nurse a calf strain.
• The Sounders qualified for the 2012-13 CCL through league performance and winning the U.S. Open Cup in 2011. Tigres qualified as 2011 summer-season champion.
• Seattle hosts the second leg of the series on March 12 at CenturyLink Field. Tickets are available.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers