The Sounders will have a training session in Tukwila this morning and then fly to Utah, where they will open there away-and-home aggregate-score series against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
And that's new. This is the third playoff appearance in Sounders history, but the first time they go in as the higher seed -- and therefore the first time that they play away first and then play the deciding final 90 at home.
Everyone generally agrees that should be an advantage. But interestingly enough, it hasn't played out that way for Salt Lake according to this note from the club:
RSL’s postseason and CONCACAF Champions League history indicates that Jason Kreis’ team actually prefers to host the first leg of a two-game, aggregate-goal, 180-minute series … In these situations, RSL is a perfect 3-0, advancing over Chivas USA (2008, MLS), Columbus Crew (2009, MLS) and Saprissa (2011, CCL) … When RSL owns the higher seed or by draw hosts the second leg, it boasts only a 1-2 mark, series losses against FC Dallas (2010, MLS) and Monterrey (2011, CCL) sandwiched around another series win over Columbus (2011, CCL)
Meanwhile, here's what a few interested parties had to say:
RSL coach JASON KREIS "I really don’t know that I know the answer to that about who has the advantage. You have to think that that was a well-thought-out decision, and probably a good one. I do think that if the majority of coaches you would ask that exact same question they would say, ‘Well we want to play at home and come home to know exactly what result we need to advance. On top of that if we get ourselves into a strenuous situation and don’t get the result handled in the first 90 minutes, then we get to play the overtime and possible shootout in front of our home fans.’ So I do think that that is a decision that has been made probably the right way. I don’t know that necessarily I think that is the best thing for our team. But I do think for most teams, that is what most teams and most coaches would want."
Sounders coach SIGI SCHMID"It feels great to have the second game here. Certainly when you play the first game [at home] you still have to go down there. If it’s overtime, if anything’s going to happen, if it goes to penalties, you’re going to be away from home. It’s nice to know that’s going to happen at home. It’s nice to know you’ve got your crowd behind you. It’s nice to know you’ve got your last few days of preparation and you’re sleeping in your own bed and you’re going through your regular routine.”
Sounders defender JEFF PARKE"Having the away game first is an advantage because then we can see what we need to do when we come home. The mentality of the group is to not give up any goals. If we can do that, then I think our chances are great. We come back here and can hopefully handle business, but going down there is the most important I think. They’re a really tough team. It’s a tough place to play. Obviously they’ve done well. There’s a lot of good things with their team, so it’s going to be a really tough game. If we can hold them to zero, that’s the best thing we can go there."