Weary Sounders FC tries to erase nightmare in Mexico
Seattle is on a roll and hopes to beat CF Monterrey on Tuesday, a team that stole a 3-2 win last year.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ CF Monterrey, 5 p.m., FSC
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History was within Sounders FC's grasp.
Last September, Seattle held a two-goal lead on the road against CF Monterrey and seemed primed to become the first MLS team to win in Mexico. Then, disaster struck.
In four nightmarish minutes, Monterrey scored three goals late in the CONCACAF Champions League game to steal the victory.
Afterward, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid incessantly used the word "disappointed." Forward Mike Fucito called it "a good learning experience."
The Sounders will see if those lessons stuck Tuesday as they return to Monterrey for a 5 p.m. CCL group-stage match, and this time the stakes are higher.
In 2010, Seattle was on the brink of elimination in the international competition. This year, both teams won their CCL openers and early control of Group D is on the line in the rematch.
"It's going to be a difficult game, a difficult opponent in a difficult place to play," said Schmid of what is arguably the hardest trip in North and Central America.
Beyond the competition, Sounders FC will continue to face some similar challenges: short rest (this is the fourth game in 11 days after playing Saturday in Dallas) and sweltering heat (expected temperatures are in the 90s).
So far those issues haven't been much bother. Seattle is on an 8-1-4 run in MLS and beat Comunicaciones of Guatemala 4-1 to open the CCL group stage last week.
"We're very happy with how the form's been for the most part," said goalkeeper Kasey Keller. "A little hiccup in Houston, but other than that it's been really solid the last several months. Hopefully, we can keep it going."
The defending CCL champion, Monterrey is unbeaten in its last 13 games in the competition and could be the Sounders' biggest test so far this season. And while FC Dallas broke the league's 0-21-3 streak in Mexico, one win in 25 games isn't exactly a reversal of fortune.
When asked why winning in Mexico is so difficult, Keller said: "They're good teams. They have good budgets. They have probably 10 times the budget that we have. ...
"When you go down and you're matching up what we've done in our history compared to what some of the Mexican teams have done, you can see why it's a difficult task. But that tide is changing."
• Sounders FC midfielder Lamar Neagle, a Federal Way native, is suspended Tuesday after a red card in last week's CCL game against Comunicaciones. Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is eligible to return after a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation.
• Facing three games in the next eight days, Schmid will likely shuffle Seattle's roster again. He stressed resting some players before Saturday's MLS home game against Columbus and next week's U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Dallas.
"Winning in Monterrey is going to be a tough task no matter what squad we send out there," Schmid said. "But we feel we've got a good mix of players, where we can send out some players with experience who maybe haven't played as many minutes as the other guys."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
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