April 1, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Seattle Sounders FC
Champions League Semifinals Start Tuesday
For the first time in club history, Seattle Sounders FC will compete in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, hosting Mexico's Santos Laguna in the first leg on Tuesday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
The match will be broadcast live on FOX Soccer with John Strong and Keith Costigan calling the action. Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller will call the game on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with Matt Johnson, Pete Fewing and Alan Hinton on the postgame show.
Tickets to the Santos Laguna match are available by phone at 800-745-3000 or by visiting www.SoundersFC.com .
Tuesday's match is the first of a two-game, aggregate goal series. The second leg will be played on April 9 at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico.
The LA Galaxy take on two-time defending champion Monterrey in the other semifinal, beginning Wednesday in Los Angeles and concluding April 10 in Monterrey, Mexico.
The semifinal winners will advance to the two-leg final, to be played on April 24 and May 1. The winner of the 2012- 13 CONCACAF Champions League will earn a berth to the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
Seattle became the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican side from the modern-era Champions League tournament when they ousted Tigres UANL in the quarterfinal. It is the first appearance for Sounders FC in the semifinals, becoming the third team to reach the semifinals in league history.
In league play, Sounders FC (0-3-1, 1 point) dropped its third match in four outings with a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. One of four teams still searching for a league win, Seattle's next opportunity is two weeks away when they host the New England Revolution on April 13.
Designated Player Obafemi Martins made his first start for Sounders FC on Saturday night, but goalkeeper Michael Gspurning had the standout performance, recording a career-high seven saves.
Seattle's opponent on Tuesday is a familiar one, having faced Santos in the quarterfinal round of last year's tournament. Sounders FC won the first leg at home, 2-1, but ultimately fell, 7-3 on aggregate. Santos ousted the Houston Dynamo from the quarterfinals of this year's tournament, 3-1 on aggregate.
The runners-up of last year's competition, Santos (6-2-4, 22 points) currently sit fourth in the Liga MX standings - six points out of first place - and are unbeaten in their last six outings (4-0-2), with their last league loss coming on February 10.
Following Tuesday's match, Sounders FC will have its second bye of the season before visiting Santos next Tuesday.
Saturday, May 4 - Sounders FC at Philadelphia Union - 1 p.m. kickoff, PPL Park, Chester, Penn.
Uncharted Territory: Seattle in the Semis
Tuesday night will mark Seattle's first CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal match. A spot in the semis has been difficult for MLS clubs since the redesign of the tournament in 2008, and just three other teams - Real Salt Lake (2010-11), Toronto FC (2011-12) and LA Galaxy (2012-13) - have reached the semifinals. Salt Lake is the only team to advance to the finals, falling to Monterrey in the 2010-11 tournament. Two teams won the previous version of the Champions League. DC United won the Champions Cup in 1998, and Sigi Schmid's LA Galaxy hoisted the trophy in 2000.
April Answers: Four-Match Month
Sounders FC rolls into April looking to get back to their winning ways. With four games over the next four weeks, April is currently the second-lightest month of the season for Sounders FC. The month kicks off with the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series against Mexico's Santos Laguna, and wraps up with a home fixture against New England and a road contest at Colorado. The two league matches in April are the fewest in MLS. Sounders FC are 8-4-5 all-time in April, going undefeated (5-0-3) over the past two seasons. The last April loss was April 25, 2010 at Toronto FC. Striker Eddie Johnson is currently tied-seventh among active players with nine goals in the month of April.
Right Back to It: Yedlin Continues Hot Start
DeAndre Yedlin continued the strong start to his professional career on Saturday night, becoming the youngest player in club history to record an assist (19 years, 264 days). The first Homegrown Player has already become the youngest player to start, play a complete game and score a goal for Sounders FC. Yedlin is one of just four players (Michael Gspurning, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Steve Zakuani) to start every league match this season.
It was more than his assist that made Yedlin's performance at Salt Lake impressive. The 19-year-old Seattle native made a team-high six tackles and two blocked shots. His 67 touches were only bested by Osvaldo Alonso (69) and he completed 72-percent of his 36 passes - a game-high 16 were intended for Alonso.
Busy Night in Nets
Seattle keeper Michael Gspurning had a career night Saturday at Salt Lake. He made a career-high seven saves, including a franchise record for a half (six), and faced nine shots. The saves and shots faced rank third in club history, all of which were losses, and Gspurning's 11 saves over the past two games mark a career-high.
Seattle All-Time Highs - Saves, Shots Faced
Player Saves Shots Faced Date Result
Kasey Keller 10 14 8/2/09 L, 0-4 at San Jose
Kasey Keller 9 12 6/27/10 L, 1-3 at Philadelphia
Michael Gspurning 7 9 3/30/13 L, 1-2 at Salt Lake
Kasey Keller 7 8* 10/15/11 W, 2-1 vs. San Jose
Starting Point: Hahnemann in Goal Tuesday
Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will make his second career start for Sounders FC on Tuesday in place of the suspended Michael Gspurning. Hahnemann, who began his professional career with the A-League Sounders in 1994, signed with the club on September 14, 2012, and made his first start on October 24 - a 3-1 win over CD Marathon in the final match of the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage. He played 242 shutout minutes in the 2013 preseason, and made seven saves with one goal allowed in the MLS Reserve League match against Portland on March 17.
How They Got Here
Sounders FC and Santos Laguna took similar paths to the semifinals. As two of three teams to win all four Group Stage matches, both Seattle and Santos lost the first leg of the quarterfinals on the road before winning the series at home.
Seattle started off the Group Stage with back-to-back 3-1 wins over Caledonia of Trinidad followed by two victories over Honduras' Marathon, winning 3-2 away and 3-1 at home. The team finished with a plus-seven goal differential and four of the five goals conceded came from the penalty spot. Sounders FC entered the knockout round as the No. 3 overall seed where they ousted Tigres, 3-2 on aggregate.
Santos won all four of their Group Stage games over Toronto FC and Salvadorian side CD Aguila by a combined score of 13-1. The No. 2 overall seed, Santos faced Houston in the quarterfinals, falling 1-0 on the road and winning 3-nil at home to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.
2012/13 CONCACAF Champions League - Semifinals Schedule
Tuesday, April 2, 7 p.m. Sounders FC vs. Santos Laguna CenturyLink Field
Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m. LA Galaxy vs. Monterrey The Home Depot Center
Tuesday, April 9, 5 p.m. Sounders FC at Santos Laguna Estadio Corona
Wednesday, April 10, 7 p.m. LA Galaxy at Monterrey Estadio Tecnologico
The Semifinal Round is structured in a two-leg, aggregate goal series. The second leg will be played at the higher seed's home stadium. The winner of the series is determined by most total goals over the two matches. If the score is tied at the end of regulation of the second leg, away goals will be used as the tie breaker. Therefore, unless the score of the second leg is exactly the reverse of the first leg, a winner will be named in regulation. If, considering away goals, the score is still tied the teams will play an overtime period followed by penalty shootout, if necessary. Red cards or two yellow cards in the same game result in a one-game suspension. Yellow card accumulation resets at the beginning of the Final.
Flashback: 2012 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals - Sounders FC 3, Santos Laguna 7
First Leg: Sounders FC 2 vs. Santos Laguna 1 - March 7, 2012
Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle (Attendance: 23,433)
SEA - David Estrada (Fredy Montero, Leo Gonzalez) 12'
SAN - Herculez Gomez (Marc Crosas) 61'
SEA - Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales) 63'
Seattle Lineup: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Eddie Johnson 78), Fredy Montero, David Estrada (Marc Burch 90).
Santos Lineup: Oswaldo SÃ¡nchez, Aaron Galindo, Santiago Hoyos, Jorge Estrada, Osmar Mares, Daniel Ludueña (Candio Ramirez 74), Juan Pablo RodrÃ-guez (Rodolfo Salinas 84), Marc Crosas, Herculez GÃ"mez (Carlos Ochoa 84), Oribe Peralta, Christian SuÃ¡rez.
Second Leg: Sounders FC 1 at Santos Laguna 6 - March 14, 2012
Estadio Corona, Torreon, Mexico (Attendance: 14,278)
SAN - Christian Suarez 8'
SAN - Oribe Peralta (Daniel Luduena) 10'
SEA - Alvaro Fernandez (Fredy Montero) 37'
SAN - Herculez Gomez (Christian Suarez) 49'
SAN - Herculez Gomez (Oribe Peralta, Jorge Estrada) 67'
SAN - Christian Suarez (Jorge Estrada) 76
SAN - Carlos Ochoa 81.
Seattle Lineup: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Christian SivebÃ¦k 77), Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Fredy Montero, David Estrada (Eddie Johnson 62, Roger Levesque 81).
Santos Lineup: Oswaldo SÃ¡nchez, Aaron Galindo, Felipe Baloy, Jorge Estrada, Osmar Mares, Daniel Ludueña (Candido Ramirez 63), Juan Pablo RodrÃ-guez, Marc Crosas (Rodolfo Salinas 33), Herculez GÃ"mez (Carlos Ochoa 69), Oribe Peralta, Christian SuÃ¡rez.
About Santos Laguna
Club: Santos Laguna (MEX)
City: Torreon, Coahuila
Stadium: Estadio Corona
Manager: Benjamin Galindo
Qualification method: 2012 Mexican Clausura champion
Previous CONCACAF Champions League appearances: 2008-09 (Semifinals), 2010-11 (Quarterfinals), 2011-12 (Finals)
Honors: Mexican Primera Division champion - 4 (1996 Invierno, 2011 Verano, 2008, 2012 Clausura); Interliga champion - 1 (2004); Copa Independenica - 1 (2007)
Official website: http://clubsantoslaguna.com.mx
Santos Laguna is competing in its fourth CONCACAF Champions League, and third straight after losing to Monterrey in last year's final. Santos twice previously reached the semifinals, losing to Mexican squads Atlante in 2008 and Cruz Azul in 2010. The club competes in the 30,000-seat Estadio Corona, which was completed in 2009 at the cost of $100 million. The first match was a friendly between Santos Laguna and famed Brazilian club Santos FC on November 11, 2009. The sold-out crowd included Mexican president Felipe Calderon and Brazilian World Cup hero Pele. Santos captured the 2012 Clausura title in dramatic fashion, beating Tigres in the semifinals on a pair of late goals and then defeating Monterrey in the final 3-2 on aggregate.
Santos Laguna sits fourth in the Liga MX standings at 6-2-4 (22 points) after conceding a late 1-1 draw on Saturday against Queretaro. Oribe Peralta scored a first-half penalty, but a stoppage time own goal by Felipe Baloy leveled the match. Prior to Saturday's draw, Santos won their previous four league matches to pull within four points of league-leading Atlas, and also ousted the Houston Dynamo from Champions League play, avenging a 1-0 loss in the first leg with a 3-nil home win.
The club is captained by famed goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, who has 99 caps for El Tri. The attack features U.S. international Herculez Gomez, whose career has enjoyed a resurgence in the Mexican Primera Division. He is the first player to win both an MLS Cup and a Primera Division title. Mexican forward Oribe Peralta was the co-leading scorer in last year's Champions League with seven goals and scored 43 goals in all competitions, all from the run of play. The team features 11 present or former international players, including seven Mexican internationals.
Forward Sammy Ochoa played with Santos defender Oswaldo Alanis at Estudiantes Tecos from 2009-11. Argentine midfielder Mauro Cejas played for Newell's Old Boys from 2005-2007, joining the team the year after Mauro Rosales left for Ajax. Seattle centerback Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Santos forwards Carlos Quintero and Andres Renteria are from Colombia. Two Santos players grew up in Northern California. Midfielder Benji Joya is from San Jose, Calif. and played youth soccer for DeAnza Force and forward Daniel Cuevas is from Sacramento and has played for the US U20 National Team.
The Herculez Link
Santos forward Herculez Gomez played for the LA Galaxy in 2003 under Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. Gomez was loaned to the USL Sounders in 2003, making 17 appearances with one goal before joining the Colorado Rapids (2007-08) and Kansas City Wizards (2008-09). Overall, he scored 23 goals with 13 assists in 124 appearances in six seasons of MLS play. Gomez is a teammate of Seattle's Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans on the US Men's National Team, earning 20 caps with five goals. He scored three goals in last year's two-game series against Sounders FC.
US Update: Next Home WCQ in Seattle
The U.S. Men's National Team's next home match is at CenturyLink Field on June 11. Following last week's win over Costa Rica in Denver and historic scoreless draw in Mexico City, the USMNT sits tied for second overall in the CONCACAF standings through the third round. There are 10 games total in the Hexagonal Round, with the top three teams advancing to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as the fourth-place team enters a playoff against New Zealand for the final spot.
Prior to the June 11 match in Seattle, the USMNT will play two friendlies (Belgium on May 29 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and Germany on June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.) as well as a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica in Kingston on June 7.
USMNT Hexagonal Schedule
Date Matchup/Result Venue
Feb. 6 USA 1 at Honduras 2 Estadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula
March 22 USA 1 vs. Costa Rica 0 Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
March 26 USA 0 at Mexico 0 Azteca Stadium, Mexico City
June 7 USA at Jamaica National Stadium, Kingston
June 11 USA vs. Panama CenturyLink Field, Seattle
June 18 USA vs. Honduras Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
Sept. 6 USA at Costa Rica Estadio Nacional, San Jose
Sept. 10 USA vs. Mexico Crew Stadium, Columbus
Oct. 11 USA vs. Jamaica Sporting Park, Kansas City
Oct. 15 USA at Panama Estadio Nacional, Panama City
Place Team Record Goal Differential
1 Panama 1-0-2, 5 pts. +2 (5/3)
T-2 Costa Rica 1-1-1, 4 pts. +1 (4/3)
T-2 USA 1-1-1, 4 pts. 0 (2/2)
T-2 Honduras 1-1-1, 4 pts. -1 (4/5)
5 Mexico 0-0-3, 3 pts. 0 (2/2)
6 Jamaica 0-1-2, 2 pts. -2 (1/3)
Academy Splits Derby Matches in Vancouver
Sounders FC Academy traveled up to Vancouver, B.C. and picked up a win and a loss against Cascadia-rivals Whitecaps FC. The U18's fell, 1-0, in a matchup of the top two teams in the USSDA Northwest Division thanks to a late Vancouver winner. The U16's won their second straight match with a 3-1 result despite trailing at halftime.
The loss is the first suffered by the U18's in seven matches, as they sit three points behind Vancouver for first place in the division with one game in hand. The U16's have lost just once (6-3-1) in their last 10 games and also sit second in the Northwest Division, trailing only DeAnza Force.
The Academy squads return to action this weekend with home fixtures against San Juan Soccer Club and Real Salt Lake. Games will be held at Starfire Sports Complex.
Sounders FC U18 (USSDA) (11-4-5, 38 points)
Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (March 30) - L, 0-1
Sounders FC was unable to equalize after a second half Whitecaps FC goal, marking the first time all season the Seattle U18 side has been shut out.
SOUNDERS FC GOALS (ASSISTS): None
Sounders FC U16 (USSDA) (11-3-6, 39 points)
Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (March 30) - W, 3-1
After Vancouver went up 1-0 in the first half, the Rave Green scored three second-half goals en route to their second straight win. Ryan Schaefer equalized early in the second half with his second goal of the season before Vic Mansaray added two more for Seattle, giving him five on the year.
SOUNDERS FC GOALS (ASSISTS): Ryan Schaefer, Vic Mansaray (Sean Bowman), Vic Mansaray (Justin Critchlow)