The Sounders have little time to fret over Wednesday’s disappointing loss to Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League — and that might be a good thing, according to technical director Chris Henderson.
He explains why and more in a short chat I had with him earlier today after training at Starfire. Here’s the transcript:
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(Is there anything that can be done to avoid having just one day of preparation for your MLS opener?) “I think the league has been pretty accommodating. They gave us that last weekend off, and now the Galaxy gets this weekend off. I think Toronto is in the same boat as us. I think the league is working to help teams, whether it’s through travel or scheduling. It is a quick turnaround, but I know as a player, if you have a poor result, you want to play as quickly as you can. A full week to wait for a game is sometimes tough when you’ve had a bad loss. I think they’ve been pretty good. Maybe if CONCACAF had our game on a Tuesday (if would’ve been easier), but I think every team is in that kind of situation playing in the league and a tournament at the same time.”
(You had talked before about how MLS is closing the gap with Mexican teams. Do you fear a result like Wednesday’s will further the perception that MLS is still a ways behind?) “I think when it comes to big games like that, when you get your chances, you have to finish. Sanchez came up with those two quick saves and immediately they scored off that play. We had another chance with Rosales, and they score right off of that play. The higher level you go, the more punishment you get when you give up a chance. I think it’s about being a little more lethal in your finishing. We knew when we went down there that they were the best team in Mexico. We went down there to scout them and they were very good at home — and we’re so early in our season. It’s disappointing to get to this point, because now you have to get through the group stage and get through next year to get back to that point, and at certain opportunities you have to move forward. Yeah, it’s disappointing that we didn’t make a better statement in the second game because I thought the first game we played very well. Maybe it had something to do with the cohesion, maybe the fitness early in the year, where we couldn’t do it twice in a week and make it work. We have to learn from it and keep trying to progress and move forward.”
(A couple guys obviously didn’t have their best game defensively. How do you evaluate whether you need to make improvements or changes or whether this was a one-game thing?) “I think we have to look at what we can do to learn from it. The team defends and the team attacks, so you can’t just look to one position. We have to look at some things that maybe have been a trend over time and try to make adjustments, because we’ll probably play another team like that somewhere down the road that’s probably a little more superior in the attack than what we face in MLS. I think we faced that with Santos Laguna. They’re a very quick counterattacking team, so we have to be prepared when we face a team like that again. I think the guys know the standard and what we’ll face in the league, but we have to work on things and focus now on the game tomorrow. Over the next month or so we’ll have to sort out the issues we had in (the Santos) game.”
(Is there any concern that a disappointing loss like this can linger?) “You always have that concern, but the coaching staff has a ton of experience. They’ve been through it before. In history, we’ve been able to rebound from poor losses fairly well and I think we have enough experience within the group to rebound. We’re playing a team that’s on a high, it could be their highest point after winning their series with the Galaxy, so we have to be prepared for a quality team that’s not the same as they used to be. They’re a team with confidence. They’re a team that’s changed their style over the last year and a half. I still believe we have the quality to be a top team in this league every single week; we just have to believe in ourselves and come out and perform.”