Here's coach Sigi Schmid's opening statement after the Sounders opened their aggregate-score series with a 1-0 home loss tonight to Santos Laguna:
"You don’t want to lose your home game. But I thought we didn’t play that poorly. I thought we did all right. They’re a good team – they’re a very good team. Their front three are as dangerous a front three as you’re going to run into anywhere. They got in a few times, but I thought for the most part we held them at bay, which was good. Obviously we were missing some people. We just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. But that’s not impossible. It’s difficult but not impossible."
On compensating for his missing players: We felt we only had one forward in Ochoa, so we played Ochoa up. I wanted Caskey to be a little bit higher. He sometimes dropped a little bit deeper, but I wanted Caskey, Evans and Mario to be like the next attacking group. I thought Evans got in a couple of times in the first half, but there were misplays at key moments. But those guys were to join in and link up. But I thought the effort of that group was pretty good.
On Sharlie Joseph: I think he helps us. He’s a good distributor of the ball. He finds people forward. But he’s another guy, he hasn’t played a 90-minute game in an awful long time, so he’s rounding into fitness. I thought in the first 45 minutes, I thought he helped us. Again -- it sounds like a broken record but it’s true unfortunately – we’re still trying to get to know each other. … Shalrie likes to play a lot of first-time balls off, and that caught some of the guys by surprise.
On Marcus Hahnemann: I thought Marcus was fine. The goal was difficult because it was a misplay from us in the back, so he gets through and hits the shot, and he can’t hold that cleanly and then we completely didn’t mark up on that side. So obviously Herculez then buried that opportunity.
On if those injured players will be available for the second leg: “We hope Eddie [Johnson] and Oba [Martins] will be able to make it back. With David [Estrada], because it’s his eye, there’s a concern with him entering activity too early because it’s something that could affect his vision, so they’re being real careful with him.” On the play of Shalrie Joseph: “I think he helps us. He’s a good distributer of the ball, I think he finds people forward, but he’s another guy who hasn’t played a 90-minute game in an awful long time, so he’s rounding into fitness. I thought in the first 45 minutes helped us. It sounds like a broken record but it’s true—unfortunately we’re still trying to get to know each other. Now Shalrie in with Ozzie [Alonso], do they know each other? Shalrie looks to play a lot of first-time balls off and that caught some of the guys by surprise.” On if the team’s form is improving: “I thought our play was better than it was against Salt Lake. Obviously if Santos is in our league, I think they’re battling for the title. For us to play a team like that who’s in form in their season, it was good. Like I said, we were missing some people and put some new people in. For us right now, we’re still looking for the right mix.” On players stepping up tonight: “I think some guys who had opportunities tonight stepped up and played. We obviously made some changes towards the end of the game to try and ignite it and look for that goal. Did we create more in the last 15 minutes? I don’t know. We had a couple of chances, had some corner kicks, got around the box, but offensively I thought our best phase was probably periods of time in the first half.” On if there is any second-guessing about playing Johnson and Martins against RSL: “Well we could put them all in a bubble and not played any of them on Saturday and then nobody would have been injured for today, but you can’t do that. Santos, those guys played on Saturday and they were able to play today and Quintero might have gotten injured for them today. You can’t plan on injuries. Players should be able to play two games in succession like that. Oba was the only one we put on the field where he was trying to play because he felt he could get through it and maybe that’s when maybe we should have said no. Again, we’re at the early stages with him. I don’t know him that well, he wanted to try and push through it, so we gave him that opportunity. I think it shows a little bit his character, wanting to be there for us and help our team, but when we looked at things in the MRI that we did on Monday, we felt it would not be wise to play him today. He would have gone out there again today if we would have said yes, but today we made that decision so that he can play.” On Martins’ injury: “It’s a tendon above the patella that’s where his quad comes in that’s aggravated.” On improving from the game at Salt Lake: “I think we worked. I think we worked for each other and didn’t pick and choose. That’s the important part of the game, you’ve got to work all the time. It’s when the game requires you to work, not when you want to work. We still have to get better in the final third, there’s still a lack of movement when we’re getting it to crossing positions and dangerous positions, so that’s something we still have to work on.”