SEATTLE — Too many games. Not enough time.
It has been a familiar issue for Sounders FC the past few years, particularly due to regular participation in three competitions — MLS, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
This time, however, it is Seattle’s opponent, Tigres UANL of Mexico, feeling the crunch of a crowded schedule.
Today’s second leg of a CCL quarterfinal at CenturyLink Field will be the third game in seven days for the top team in the Mexican first division. As a result, Tigres elected to travel with an incomplete squad of 16 and leave most its starters back home, according to the team’s website.
The Sounders, on the other hand, should be well-rested after getting a bye over the weekend from MLS.
“We have to take advantage,” Schmid said after practice when discussing the possibility of lineup changes.
Only two starters from Tigres’ lineup in Wednesday’s first leg, midfielders Elias Hernandez and Alberto Acosta, made the trip to Seattle to protect a 1-0 series lead. Also here is the lone goal-scorer, forward Alan Pulido, plus some other key reserves, including former U.S. international defender Jonathan Bornstein.
Three players from the team’s U-20 squad also traveled.
Tigres starters, after Wednesday’s game against the Sounders, also played in Saturday’s league game at San Luis on the road.
Against a weakened opponent, a key issue for Seattle will be keeping a shutout defensively.
The first tiebreaker in the CCL knockout rounds is road goals, meaning if Tigres scores here once on Tuesday, the Sounders would need at least three goals to advance (a 2-1 Seattle win, for example, would tie the series 2-2 on aggregate, but Tigres would advance by nature of a 1-0 advantage in road goals).
So while scoring is important, “the main thing is to get a clean sheet,” said defender Djimi Traore, who years ago helped English club Liverpool overcome a 3-0 deficit to win the UEFA Champions League.
Defender Adam Johansson (knee) and midfielder Shalrie Joseph (calf) have been ruled out of Tuesday’s game, Schmid said.
Forward David Estrada and midfielder Steve Zakuani practiced Sunday as they recover from ankle injuries, but their availability is to be determined.
“I don’t know (about) this upcoming game on Tuesday, but hopefully toward the end of the week I think I’ll be better,” Estrada said.