Santos Laguna reach CCL Final after Sounders fall short

MauroRosalesvsSantosLaguna (MexSport)


Just hours after Borussia Dortmund completed an improbable late comeback of their own in Europe’s Champions League, the Seattle Sounders were in the process of setting up their own in Mexico.

Substitute Lamar Neagle scored a goal in the 73rd minute to tie the match against Mexican side Santos Laguna, and put the Sounders just one goal away from making it into the CONCACAF Champions League final.

However, it was not to be, as Santos moved on to the final, securing a 2-1 aggregate victory over the Sounders. It’s the club’s second straight season in the championship match, and depending on the result, they could have an all-Mexican rematch against Monterrey for a place in the 2013 Club World Cup.

Santos got off to the start they wanted, when forward Darwin Quintero scored on a beautiful free-kick goal in the 21st minute to take a 1-0 lead on the night. Quintero’s shot hit the bottom of the crossbar, bounced over the line, and then spun out, before being headed in by American forward Herculez Gomez. The assistant referee ruled that the ball had gone in from Quintero’s shot, giving the 25-year-old his fourth goal in this season’s Champions League.

With a 2-0 lead on aggregate, Santos played with confidence, tiring out the Seattle midfield in the 95-degree heat. Things didn’t change for the Sounders at the start of the second half, as forwards Eddie Johnson and Steve Zakuani couldn’t find the winning formula up top.

Sounders manager Sigi Schmid changed the face of the match by bringing in Rosales and Neagle in the second half. Once Neagle’s goal went in, Rosales took charge in the last 27 minutes of the half, nearly single-highhandedly leading the MLS team to a goal.

Sammy Ochoa was the third change for the Sounders, coming in for Zakuani in the 77th minute, but he was unable to find the right connection with his teammates, showing a lack of consistency and chemistry.

Here are the match highlights:


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47 Responses to Santos Laguna reach CCL Final after Sounders fall short

  1. Marco says:

    MLS bossman.. up the salary cap..

  2. solles says:

    …it was a 1-0 lead on aggregate, not 2-0. if you were counting the away goal, dont, it’s only a tiebreaker in the event aggregate goals are even.

    • divers suck says:

      It was 2-0 on aggregate after Santos scored the 1st goal. If Seattle would have picked up a second goal, the aggregate would have been 2-2 with them advancing on the road goal advantage, correct?

    • nathan says:

      If you’re referring to the score after Santos scored in this game, then it was indeed 2-0 n aggregate. You say not to count the away goal, but the away goal is still a goal. Santos won 1-0 in seattle, then scored to go up 2-0 on aggregate. the away goal doesn’t count EXTRA excet as a tiebreaker, but it still counts as a goal. Maybe I’m missing what you’re saying, but the only reference in the article to being up 2-0 on aggregate is correct.

    • Jake says:

      I read a post where someone explained it like this.

      An easy way to think of an away goal is to add a .1

      So Santos scores a goal in Seattle, they get 1.1 points.
      If they score in their own house then it’s just worth 1 point.

      The final score of the two combined games:
      Santos 2.1
      Seattle 1.1

      If Seattle would have score one more in Santos it would have put them through with a total of 2.2

  3. Byrdmanhsv10 says:

    Off topic- anybody know why Holden didn’t play yesterday? Not even in the 18.

    • wfrw07 says:

      He played over the weekend, and right now they are taking the cautious approach and only letting him go once a week.

  4. DC Josh says:

    The away goals rule is really bothering me lately. It is so difficult to track who will win, especially if one team scores more away goals than the other team. Both teams play 90 minutes at home, so it is all ready balanced out.

    Get rid of the away goals rule, simplify the game, allow me to not think so critically for 90 minutes and enjoy my beer.

    • RB says:

      I like the system. You often avoid ending up playing the extra 30 mins and giving more time to one team at home than the other, and then of course also avoid the dreaded PKs. Plus it gives a great sense of being even going into the second leg even in cases like this where the home team lost the first leg.

      • DC Josh says:

        True RB, avoiding extra time (and penalties) is a great plus to the away goals rule. I just feel both teams have a chance to play at home for the same amount of time, so away goals should not really matter since both teams are on equal playing ground.

      • ComoPark says:

        I don’t mind it, but I wish it didn’t apply during extra time. It puts the second-leg home team at a strategic disadvantage when they never had an opportunity to benefit in the first game.

        • nathan says:

          Or you could argue that the second-leg home team has an advantage because they get more minutes at home. So perhaps the away goal rule is a good way to balance the advantages when a tie has to go to extra time in the second leg. Home team has one advantage, away team has one advantage.

    • Gnarls says:

      It really isn’t hard to track who will win if you understand the system. The away goal rule makes a lot of sense since it is typically harder to win on the road. Rewarding road goals is a smart way to decide a tie. The rule just sucks when your team wins the second leg, ties the agg score, but still loses.

    • slowleftarm says:

      It isn’t that difficult. Then again, maybe assuming that people can add single digit whole numbers is expecting too much for a DC fan,

    • Nathan says:

      One of the things i really like about the away goals rule is that is discourages teams completely parking the bus on the road. By putting additional incentive on away goals, you encourage away teams to put a little more effort into scoring vs simply defending. How much of an impact this really has, who knows, but directionally it encourages more attacking soccer.

    • WorldCitizen says:

      Then, there’s the other big plus that went unmentioned: It gives away teams more incentive to attack instead of spending 90 minutes trying to bore fans to death by parking an entire freight train in their own half of the field. MLS badly needs to apply the away-goals rule during the playoffs for this very reason.

      • WorldCitizen says:

        Oops! Sorry, Nathan; didn’t see your post on the subject before I posted. Good points, sir.

  5. Tom Patton says:

    It is not the salary cap or the players -god I hate to agree with Eric W. but when he is right he is right- it is about coaching and managerial tactics from the first whistle.

    • Eric W says:

      Why you hate to agree with me? I didn’t even say anything. Umm, lol?

    • Josh D says:

      Agreed. I’ve said it before: The MLS coaches just get outclassed time after time after time. They don’t know how to bunker away to Mexico, they can’t keep a lead the full 90, and they don’t change their tactics. Subbing in someone is not a changed tactic unless you’re changing the whole system. MLS teams run on one system and plan B is praying.

      Given the shear amount of games we’ve played against Mexican teams, home and away, statistically speaking, if it was all by chance, we would have won a lot more. The simple fact that we aren’t hints there is more to it.

      When I see division three teams beat Premier League teams more often than MLS teams beat Mexican, I wonder…

      • Steevens says:

        I would argue that the success of MLS teams in CCL is a cumulative result of the following factors in decending order of importance:

        1. Salary cap. It has been proven over and OVER again that clubs paying higher wages have more success.
        2. Schedule. Mexican clubs are usually at or near peak form as they are in-season. Barring an injury crisis for the Mexican clubs CCL becomes a competition between a MLB team in spring training, and a team in peak in-season form (if such a time travel paradox were possible).
        3. Coaching: While I think the Mexican clubs are also guilty of having specific systems they play, without changing formation. I fully agree that the experience/quality level of coaches in MLS is in dire straights.
        4. CONCACAF Referees: Let’s be honest, CONCACAF refs are so terribly inconsistent that these ties can sway in favor of either side due to some pretty terrible calls.

        There are likely other factors I have not considered, and possibly some that are more important that those I listed. But one can NEVER blame one single variable for this situation.

        • Steevens says:

          #?: Somewhere in the list (but I can’t decide where) has to be the history of the league/clubs. MLS clubs have not been around long enough to build good youth systems, develop quality from within, etc. etc.

          • Jeff says:

            If you look at the development of the Mexican league, they haven’t invested in their youth development systems for a very long time. Only a handful of teams (Chivas, UNAM, Cruz Azul and Atlas) have been putting money in their youth development systems since the early nineties. Before that, as with many teams around the world, they focused primarily on natural talent, such as Hugo Sanchez. It wasn’t until the late 90’s/early 2000’s that there was a cohesive effort by the FMF to get teams to invest in their youth structures. They then developed all sorts of youth competitions between the teams and invested heavily in the youth national team structure to promote their development. So when MLS fans suggest that Mexican clubs have a long history of youth player development, it’s actually not correct. Big money didn’t come into the Mexican league/federation until the 90’s and most teams have been smart in investing in their youth structures since then. Therefore, the timeline between the two leagues/federations is similar. The approach and investment is what has differed greatly.

    • WorldCitizen says:

      I like Waldo and often agree with him, but this time I largely don’t. It’s certainly true that many factors are in play (and coaching is among them), but a really, really major one that most people seem to ignore (and some even get touchy over) is that the technical skill of players on Mexican clubs is just much better, top to bottom. The reason MLS sides can’t “bunker for 90″ effectively in Mexico is simply because Mexican teams/players are good enough to carve them open with skill and create ample opportunities no matter how thoroughly the bus is parked. And when MLS teams inevitably concede, they almost invariably lack the corresponding skill level to respond with the fluid, effective attacking required to erase the deficit. American players, with very few exceptions, just aren’t “there” yet in technical terms, and MLS’s stubborn insistence on making every team in the league as mediocre as every other team with a rock-hard and very low salary cap effectively prohibits the importation of enough players who have the skills to get it done. This in turn often reduces MLS teams to relying on good-luck goals from set pieces or long balls — and we have seen how often (or rather, rarely) luck comes MLS’s way in this tournament. Especially when considering the abysmally poor (if not at times biased) officiating from CONCACAF refs, MLS teams will need much more than luck if they ever want to play in the Club World Cup. One way or the other, that’ll take lots of money, as some combination of more and better imports and substantially higher investment in player development will be required to fix the problem. Sadly, one look at MLS’s appallingly low TV ratings makes clear that it’ll be quite some time before the required revenues will materialize.

  6. Alexandria says:

    Yep this is all on Sigi for not going after the game at home. Why rest Hurtado and play Scott? Everyone complains about lack of depth, untrue there’s lack of managers willing to bring these young guys up and give them a chance. This league has the players they need better coaches.

    • Gnarls says:

      Zack Scott was terrible last night. Seemed like every time his name was mentioned, he was getting burned by Quintero.

      • emo says:

        Hurtado didn’t play in the first leg because he was HORRIBLE against RSL. Shockingly enough, Scott is the best CB option the Sounders have right now – and yes, that is entirely a salary-cap driven problem.

    • Lost in Space says:

      The league has some good players (and is improving on that front) but not a lot of quality depth within teams. While Salary Cap increase may assist in improving the quality of players (keeping players) it does not necessarily address the depth problem.
      To be better able to compete in CCL and other leagues 4 (maybe 5) things need to take place:
      1) Improve the coaching – Attract better coaches or train ex-players to become the coaches of the future.
      2) Increase Roster Size – Grow the team rosters by “X” number of players with the stipulation that each team must carry on their roster a % under the age of __ yrs of age. Example 15% qualify as U-23 players.
      3) Young players (U-23) on the squad are required to participate in X % of matches (League, Open Cup, CCL). Mexico did this in their league a number of years ago and have started to see the dividends of this investment at the International Levels.
      4) Increase the Salary Cap – Retain players and grow with youth through the signing of young tallent instead of retirement players.
      5) USNT Player DP type rule. Give an extra DP slot to teams if a player on their roster meets certain criteria representing the USNT. Similar to the requirement for obtaining a Work Permit for England (% of “A” games featured in over the last 2 years). Over-rides the allocation draft, or allows clubs to hold onto young players who might otherwise sit the bench in Europe.

    • Parzival says:

      The hell are you talking about? What young guys? JKH is not anywhere close to being a “young guy” and he’s been atrocious the entire season.

    • DC Josh says:

      The bottom line is the Mexican teams are BETTER than the MLS teams. It’s that simple.

  7. Gnarls says:

    MLS needs to allocate a lot more money to CCL teams. The current allocation amount is probably proportional to the income earned by playing in the tournament (not much until the quarterfinals, I bet), so it would be an investment on the part of MLS. If Garber really wants to see an MLS team hoist the CCL trophy and then play with the big boys at the CWC, it’s going to take more money.

    • Josh D says:

      If we’re excusing salary cap and poor coaching, you also have to mention our grassroots. The youth movement and development just isn’t there for us to add proper depth. Depth comes from youth, not being City and buying up loads of players.

      Mexican teams beat us with youth players. I’d wager more of the so-called impact players come from within the club or at least within the league, not purchased outside of the country. All the money that teams get from the tournaments should get dumped back into the academy for scholarships, better coaches, and more opportunities to play teams from abroad.

      Here’s an idea: A CCL for the youth teams in North America. Let’s challenge our boys against Mexico’s in a proper tournament format every year. That’s how you get ours ready to play.

      • Jeff says:

        That is a pretty good idea. There are, however, many youth competitions that teams send their youth squads to that give them experience not just against Mexican teams, but from Europe and South America as well. One example is the Dallas Cup. However, these are short tournaments and I believe are by invitation or by choice. A youth CCL team could be in the works already, I don’t know. The big problem is that Central American and Caribbean teams would be at a huge disadvantage since some of them have a tough time even providing their first teams with proper training facilities and support. That’s why we have the u17 and u20 competitions, to level the playing field in a way at the national team level. Just something to keep in mind.

  8. Travis says:

    This was a frustrating game to watch as a sounders fan. We created a ton of chances but were awful in front of goal, especially EJ. Also we gave up a ton of chances, watching Scott try to defend against players far better and faster than him is about as painful as it gets. Both teams should have scored 3+.

    • KillerInstinct says:

      Not sure what game you were watching, but Zackuani missed clear chances…the ones that come to mind, were the one he had a first bad touch on minute 2 of the game and the sitter he had on minute 8

      • Travis says:

        I just singled out EJ cause he missed numerous, Zakuani missed his fair as well as did Martinez.

  9. JJ says:

    Neagle should have started over Caskey. I should have started over Scott.

  10. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    Garber really needs make some changes with salary cap, DP rule, number of Internationals, youth players getting promoted to MLS, and make sure MLS teams fit to complete.

    • GW says:

      Why should he?

      Even with all these restrictions MLS teams still are making the semis.

      And if LA get lucky tonight they might even make the final.

      Anyway it’s not clear to me MLS cares all that much about this competition. And other than Monterrey the Mexicans certainly don’t either.

      This is America’s version of the League Cup. No one really cares.

      • MA1 Rodriguez says:

        Making the semis and not winning = failure!

        Not winning CONCACAF is bad marketing for future markets, and fails draw bigger markts in TV both nationally and internationally. I am feel proud like 2000 when Galaxy won it and shut those mexicants up.

  11. The Squad says:

    Seattle took it’s shot.

    Missing a key guy (who still needs to integrate to N.American soccer) hurts.

    A recovering Johnson and still not-just-right Zakuani doesn’t help either.

    That being said, the team went down to Torrean and “showed up” for the most part.

    There was a palpable sense of purpose ultimately leading to the Neagle goal

    *Aside: Lamar Neagle is a skilled young American midfielder, unfortunately, Sigi seems to use just about everyone on his roster game in/game out-limiting Neagle’s ops on the ball.

    A semi-final loss to a game Santos side isn’t the end of the world.

    Regardless of DPs salary caps injuries and roster micro-management Seattle simply didn’t hold serve at home.

    Santos did

    • MA1 Rodriguez says:

      Note: Barca is going to play two weeks. Thats what MLS teams tried to do, MLS teams aren’t fit, and need time gel. Buy time for new players mesh into the team.

      No one under 600k should be consider a DP. Some MLS players deserve huge raise but not like DP status. MLS has think marketing-wise and huge performance not just in MLS but Internationally.

      Sigi never was liked by Galaxy, Sigi was known over cautious and being fat.

      Fans aren’t happy with losing to mexican teams. Some fans could take hiatus from MLS (like I did) don’t watch MLS game for awhile.