By Dylan Butler
There's no lack of confidence heading into the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Not from the visiting Seattle Sounders FC and certainly not from host Santos Laguna.
Seattle won the opening leg 2-1 at CenturyLink Field last week and feels good about its chances of advancing to the semifinals despite MLS squads' struggles south of the border. Seattle won twice and drew the other game away from home in the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage, including a 1-0 win at Monterrey on August 23.
"Obviously we wanted to have the shutout and not let that one goal go in, but to respond and get the second goal gives us even more confidence going down there," first-leg hero Brad Evans said. "We know that they have to beat us and I can tell that nobody is scared to go down there. We have done well anywhere we played away from home last year."
Evans scored the eventual game-winner two minutes after Herculez Gomez struck for the equalizer.
"I don't think we should be too confident, but we're not that easy to play at home either," Gomez said. "We have a great fan base and are undefeated at home. We have a big game coming up with home field advantage."
Santos is unbeaten in six games at home since December, including four victories.
Gomez continued his form on the weekend, scoring twice while Orbie Peralta added a goal in a 3-1 win against Puebla. The win moved Santos, which won all three games at Estadio Corona in the Champions League Group Stage, atop the Mexican Clausura.
"The feeling in the locker room is optimistic. We know this is the first leg and we end at home," Santos coach Benjamin Galindo said after last week's loss. "We are also aware there are strong teams in the tournament, so we have to manage well."
In the opening leg, U.S. international Eddie Johnson came off the bench to make his Seattle Sounders debut. But will he start in the second leg?
"We'll see. That's one we're going to hold in our back pocket until game time on that decision," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid told reporters in a conference call. "We expect Eddie to have a very good season for Seattle, and obviously he missed the majority of our preseason and our fitness (work) and all that.
"We want to bring him along in the appropriate way so that he can play all season and not suffer a setback."