Sounders coach Sigi Schmid split the long trip to Mexico in two, taking a stopover in the Dallas area today before continuing on to Torreon tomorrow for its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal conclusion at Santos Laguna on Wednesday.
“If we would have tried this in one day, we’d still be probably just now getting to the airport in Torreon,” Schmid said today conference call. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to practice; wouldn’t have had dinner at this stage. It allows us to get a night’s sleep, which I think is important.”
It is a schedule designed to give the Sounders maximum advantage over Santos, which used most of its starters Saturday in a 3-1 Mexican Clausura win over Puebla.
“Those guys have played a lot,” Schmid said. “Hopefully that will help us. But when you’re in the middle of the season, you’re playing for important games. Somehow the mental fitness takes over for these players, and I’m sure they’ll be ready. But they’ve got more mileage on them now because they played that game Saturday.”
Seattle will take a one-goal advantage into the deciding game of the aggregate-score, home-and-away series. That came courtesy of a 2-1 win in the Wednesday opener at CenturyLink Field.
Because road goals count as the first tie-breaker, the Sounders will advance if they can at least match the results of either of their last two games in Mexico: a 3-2 loss at Monterrey in 2010, or a 1-0 win there last season.
“We’ve done OK on the road in Mexico,” Schmid said. “Even two years ago when we lost at Monterrey … we were up 2-0 and we sort of gave that game away. We’ve shown that we can play and we can be comfortable, and that’s the main thing that you take away: It gives you the confidence you can play with quality away from home, and you sort of know what to expect.”
This will be the Sounders first trip to the central-Mexican city of Torreon, which is about 3,280 feet above sea level. The Wednesday forecast calls for a high temperature around 90.
“Invariably it’s easier to go from warm to cold,” Schmid said. “Altitude-wise, it’s not that much difference. We’re going in basically 24 hours before the game, which is generally when we’d go in anyway when we go in at altitude. But it’s not something like Mexico City, or even Guadalajara, where we’ve got to be overly concerned with it.”