The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
SEATTLE, Wash. –— (mlssoccer.com report) The Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent in CONCACAF Champions League play since the tournament took its current format in 2008, scoring three second-half goals and beating Tigres UANL 3-1 on Tuesday to book their trip to the semifinals.
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Seattle netted on a pair of stunning strikes from DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traoré before getting the winner from Eddie Johnson, and how they managed it was almost as stunning as the goals themselves.
Facing a squad that can only charitably be called reserves, the Sounders surrendered the first goal before storming back to win the aggregate-goal series. They were given a huge assist when Manuel Viniegra was shown a second yellow card just before halftime, but that seemed a mere detail at the time with Seattle still needing three goals to advance.
Yedlin brought the crowd back to life with a stunning 54th-minute volley from about 27 yards out that deflected off a defender just enough to beat goalkeeper Jorge Díaz de León. Just six minutes later, Traoré did him one better by hitting a half-volley from about 30 yards that that hit off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in.
With the momentum running clearly in the Sounders’ favor, the home side finally pulled ahead in the 75th minute when Johnson got free along the left wing. He held the ball long enough to force Díaz de León to commit and then beat him to the inside post from an extremely sharp angle.
From there, the Sounders held on with Tigres nearly pulling it out when Alan Pulido whistled a shot wide from about 10 yards in the 92nd minute.
Though they dominated the second half, the half was an entirely different story.
Tigres took advantage of some sloppy defending, grabbing the all-important road goal in the 23rd minute. Former US international Jonathan Bornstein got the counter started with a leading pass down the right wing before Alberto Acosta shouldered Yedlin off the ball and sent in a perfect cross that found Elías Hernández all alone at the back post for the finish.
The Mexican side continued to apply pressure and came close to adding another goal with a pair of chances in the 29th and 30th minutes. First it was Hernádez lacing a shot from about 20 yards out that Sounders ‘keeper Michael Gspurning had to punch away. On the ensuing corner, Viniegra got the ball about 10 yards out, but his shot was saved by a diving Gspurning.
The Sounders were able to generate plenty of chances in the opening period, but their finishing was sorely lacking. Sammy Ochoa got a look at an open header in the 16th minute that he skipped wide.
Johnson had two even better chances, twice getting virtually unmarked chances from the left side. His first came off an Ochoa header, but his left-footed effort from about 14 yards out sailed wide. Just a minute later in the 36th minute, Johnson was sent on the left wing with only the goalkeeper to beat. But Díaz de León got just enough of his hand on the ball to send it wide and out for a corner.
The Sounders will now await the winner of the Houston Dynamo-Santos Laguna series in the semifinals, with Houston leading 1-0 on aggregate heading into Wednesday’s second leg in Torreón, Mexico (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Coach
(On the game…) “Obviously we’re happy with the result. I felt in the first half we were around the goal and had some chances. We gave up a goal a little bit on the counter and a little bit while Brad Evans was hurt. We were trying to get Brad Evans off the field, it wasn’t being recognized. He went down and sat down on the corner kick they allowed them to play the corners. Then he had to get up and try to play and we got caught a little bit and didn’t handle it well. Very proud of the way we came back in the second half. Certainly, the red card helped us in that regard. It allowed us to go into a more offensive set in the second half. We went a lot more of a 3-5-2, pushed DeAndre [Yedlin] high on that right side and pushed Mauro Rosales, and later Mario Martinez, inside. Obviously you can’t say anything but outstanding things about all three goals. Those were some fantastic goals by DeAndre, but Djimi Traore, and by Eddie Johnson.”
(On making history by beating a Mexican team the knockout stage…) “It feels great. We wanted to win. We felt we could win. We felt we could step up the pressure and play much better than we played down there. I’m very proud of what the guys accomplished and to be the first is always a good thing.”
(On what he said at halftime…) “A lot of words that I can’t repeat here. I wasn’t too happy with how we played in the first half. I wasn’t too happy in terms of some individual efforts, which we sort of identified at halftime very directly, but we also said, ‘This is how we’re going to play in the second half, this is what I need.’ I thought you saw definitely Steve Zakuani step up in the second half. I think DeAndre definitely stepped up. We said, ‘Three goals is very possible. Three goals is not impossible for us in the second half. Let’s score three goals, let’s go do it.’”
(On the goals…) “Obviously DeAndre’s goal was fairly early in the half…it was about 10 minutes in. that I think helped turn it for us, and then Djimi’s goal was such a fantastic goal. That’s the type of goal that gives a shot of adrenaline to everyone on the field. Then we were able to maintain pressure. We came close a couple of times. Sammy [Ochoa] blocked maybe a second goal by DeAndre, but we were able to keep the pressure up.”
(On the quality of the goals…) “We said at halftime that it’s not necessarily going to be a pretty goal, it might be a great goal, it might be a garbage goal, they all count the same. They all count one. I had an assistant coach at UCLA that said, ‘You have to dare to be brilliant. You can’t be brilliant if you don’t try it.’ DeAndre hitting that ball and Djimi hitting that ball, it’s taking a chance, but that’s how you score great goals.”
(On Eddie Johnson’s play…) “He pushed out wide and got some space there. It was really because as the momentum started to shift, they ended up going more and more with three in the back instead of four. When you do that, space starts to open up. He was finding the gaps in between the center back and the outside back and sometimes getting wide around the outside back because their outside backs were pushing high and the guy was in central. It might have looked like he was in wide spaces, but he was really running inside out and was getting behind, and that’s where his goal came from, as well.”
(On his team’s play…) “For us, it’s still early in the season. We’re still trying to find our consistency as a team and our cohesion as a team. We’re always playing a little bit of a different group. Mauro [Rosales] took a bad hit in the back, that’s why he had to come out. He felt he could have gone a little bit longer, but I felt it was just going to put him out for maybe a really long time if I kept pushing him. We weren’t as happy about the first half as we wanted to be, but we still created far more chances than they did in the first half. It’s just something that as we get more cohesion and understand what guys can do in certain positions, it will get better for us.”
(On who he would rather play in the semifinals…) “I learned a long time ago that I don’t care who we play. It’s not like I prefer Houston to win or Santos Laguna. We have a score to settle with Santos if Santos is the representative. If it’s Houston, that’s the team we’ve got to get past, and it means there’s an American team who gets into the final. Either way it’s okay with me.”
(On Tigres UANL…) “They’re a good team, they have quality players and good depth. When you can leave a guy on the bench like Taufic Guarch, and not start him, who is a very talented young player, means that you have depth and you have confidence in your other players. Like I said we sent a reserve team to Monterey a couple of years ago and we won in the group stage a 1-0. Again their coach is going to make his decisions on their season and what they’re trying to achieve in their goals, and he sent up the team that he felt could get him the result. For us we have to take advantage of it if that opportunity is given to us, but on the same token we’re not going to try and figure out why he did what he did.”
(On Brad Evans injury…) “It is a calf strain so we don’t know how bad it is.”
(On transitioning for their match this week against Portland…) “It feels a lot better transitioning into it coming off of this win. It makes it a little bit easier for everybody tomorrow. Portland is a big game, they’ll get up for it, we just have to see where we’re at with our injuries and with who steps on the field.”
(On why he went with the lineup he went with…) “We felt we needed to go with two strikers in this game. We felt that we needed to get Eddie some help up front so that is why we went that way. We felt that it was tough for Mauro Rosales in there. He was getting beat up a little bit so when we decided to go that way we decided to push him back out on the flank. But really when DeAndre plays, we know that DeAndre can get up and down and can get forward on the right so it allows that player on the right, in this case Mauro and later it was Mario Martinez, to come inside and they can open up that space for DeAndre because he can cover that space as well.”
(On getting the team ready for the Portland game…) “That’s the thing that Coach Wooden always said. Even if you’re up for one game then there is a good possibility that you will be down for one, but again it’s a matter of us looking at ourselves, our character coming out. You can talk about it all you want, but it’s just a matter of the team setting it in their mind that it’s time to work again. After Saturday’s game then they have a week before they play again, so we’ll make sure that they get a little bit of rest, but right now the bigger concern is obviously we’re pretty beat up a little bit, so we have to see who’s healthy. We also have our reserve game so we have to see if we have enough bodies for our reserve game.”
Eddie Johnson – Sounders FC Forward
(On the difference between the two halves…) “We came out and played and took risks. We were down 2-0 and really had nothing to lose. We just went out there to make the most of our chances. We had some chances in the first half and the first half wasn’t our best, but we still had chances to put ourselves back in the game. But when you score two goals like that, the way (DeAndre) Yedlin scored and (Djimi) Traore scored, you feed off that energy and we had the momentum. [Tigres] going down a man really helped us out.”
(On how his goal developed…) “Steve (Zakuani) had the ball out wide and Sigi got on us at halftime for playing everything in front of them and not stretching the game. When Steve gets the ball he draws so much attention and it makes my runs a lot easier. It’s just the awareness of playing with each other, me trying to find him and him finding me. It was a well-weighted ball and the way he played the ball I knew I already had a step on my defender and I tried to touch it across cut his angle off and if he touched me in the box I would go down for a PK. In the first half I got in the same position and I tried to shoot it across to the back post. I looked at the replay and saw he leans and cheats a little bit. I was able to sneak it in near past.”
(On momentum for Saturday…) “(The win) gives us momentum, but at the same time we haven’t won in the league and we didn’t win in Tigres, but there’s a lot of positives. You lose two games and everyone starts to panic, but the main thing is about us believing in ourselves and believing in everyone in this locker room. We know we are a team that is good at home and we create chances, but it is a matter of putting them away. It does give us a good sense of confidence in as far as being front of the goal and taking chances.”
DeAndre Yedlin – Sounders FC Defender
(On your goal…) “I saw the ball floating up and I just tried to get the right timing on it. Luckily I got a good hit and it took a deflection and went in.”
(On the team’s attitude at halftime…) “We were pretty disappointed, but it was positive. I think that was a good mindset for us to be in going into the second half. Sigi just told us to stay positive and that we had nothing to lose. We could go out and make history. All we had to do was go out and score a couple of goals. Everybody was pretty positive. I mean you cannot be negative in those situations. Everybody was just supporting each other and making sure we knew what we had to do going to the second half.”
(Did you think about laying the ball off instead of shooting…) “I was a bit hesitant at first because I did not see that many guys coming out towards me. I figured I could take a touch, but then I saw a guy coming out towards me so I thought the safest thing to do was just hit it.”
(On how it feels to be a part of the first MLS team to beat a team from Mexico in CCL…)- “It’s amazing. It is a story you can pass on to your kids and grandkids and it makes the city proud. It’s good for us.”
Michael Gspurning – Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the game…) “I think that it was a great soccer night. When we went into the locker room Sigi said that we are not playing like us, and we knew that. We knew that we needed a quick first goal and we knew it was possible. When Tigres made the mistake of getting the second yellow card they gave us a chance we never would have had. When they gave us that chance we took care of the rest.”
(On defenders scoring goals…) “Amazing. I think the last time Djimi [Traore] said he scored a goal like this was with his youth team. I am very happy for him and for my defenders, because they made great shots and they get to enjoy the spotlight of scoring goals. The goal for DeAndre [Yedlin] was fantastic and I am also happy for Eddie [Johnson] because he scored for the first time this year. It was a very good statement in a very important game.”
Djimi Traore – Sounders FC Defender
(On the last time you scored a goal like that…) “I was young. Maybe like 20 years ago now.”
(On the meaning of this win…) “Tonight I think that we showed the character of our team. We were all disappointed with ourselves in the first half because we knew we hadn’t done enough, but we came out in the second half with more determination and more desire. I think that was the difference.”
(On DeAndre Yedlin’s goal…) “It was good, especially for him. He is a great young kid with great character and it was great for his career. That is something that he will probably never forget.”
(On the Sounders having more energy in the second half than Tigres…) “Well first they were only playing with ten men. We decided to change the shape of the team and only play three in the back which makes a difference because we have one extra man and we can play good futbol. That is what we did in the second half.”
(On when you knew you were going to take the shot…) “When I saw the space in front of me and I saw nobody coming to close me down. I tried and it worked. If you never try then you are never going to score goals.”
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Coach Ricardo Ferretti – Tigres UANL Head Coach
(On the game…) “There were three factors that caused us to no longer be in the CONCACAF. The first one was the red card obviously. But it was deserved because it was the second molestation – it was a real foul there. The second was two very good goals, especially the second one. I even applauded because it was very impressive. The third reason was how bad the referee was. He allowed the opposing team to be too aggressive against us. He let go many of those fouls that should’ve been punished. I don’t want to take away anything from Seattle’s victory. They didn’t need this kind of help, but playing against 12 is harder than usual.”
(On the rumors that you don’t like to play in this type of tournament [because of the red card] …) “There’s nothing like that. We like to come play in these types of tournaments. It is a great opportunity to qualify for the world cup of the champions clubs. We like to participate in this game, but the level of referee that we have in the CONCACAF zone doesn’t really match the expectation that a tournament like this should have.”
(On getting an early lead…) “We never give a game or felt the game was gone when we scored the first goal. We kept fighting for it, but certain things happened and that’s where we are today.”
(On if not having the full team here affected the outcome of the match …) “I have plenty of confidence in my whole team and all the different members I have on my roster. The proof of that is that during the game before the red card expulsion, we were playing well, we were winning 1-0 and we had an opportunity for 2-0, but something like a red card changes everything. We know that Seattle is a very strong team and 11 against 11, it was going to be a difficult game. But 11 against 12, it becomes even more complicated so that’s what happened.”
(On whether or not the game was lost in Mexico by scoring only one goal there…) “I don’t think so. We would’ve liked to have more goals in Mexico, but having one gave us a victory. Coming back here, I say again, before the red card, we were in control of the game and everything was going as planned. Then things turned around when Seattle scored the second goal.”
(On what he’d say to the fans of his club…) “We always play with all our desire to give our fans that support us the best result possible. Sometimes we are able to achieve this. That’s an objective that me and the owner of the team try to set up – to give our fans the best experience and best result possible. We have been able to achieve some of those things, and some we have not. We’re going to keep fighting to give them the best results possible.”
Jorge Dias de Leon – Tigres UANL Goalkeeper
(On if he thinks that the red card influenced the result of the game…) “Yes, absolutely. When we were with 11 men on the field, we were running the ball and had more control over the game. After that, it certainly influenced the result of the game.”
(On the atmosphere of the game, the stadium and the Sounders’ fans…) “I had heard and had informed myself that the Sounders had great fans, possibly the best fans in the world, and it was indeed a lot of noise. They have a lot of supporters. It was nice and congratulations to the Sounders.”
Jonathan Bornstein – Tigres UANL Midfielder
(On the atmosphere of the game…) “The atmosphere is always great here. I think even with the rain and the weather and the cold, I think they bring out a great cold here in Seattle. We had a lot of good fans here supporting us so overall the atmosphere of the fans here was great.”
(On how the red card came into play in the second half…) “The red card hurt us. Obviously we were down a man over half of the game. I think we were working hard to take the lead, but hey were attacking with numbers. It was tough to hold them off, we were on our heels, and they got those three goals, two really amazing goals so you have to tip your hat to that, but it’s just unfortunate that we had to get that red card in the way that we got it.”