The Seattle Sounders maintained a clean sheet against Motagua in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 match, securing a 0-0 at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in Honduras.
Though the MLS side managed only six overall shots and one on goal, head coach Brian Schmetzer praised his team for recognizing the defensive forces needed to keep the scoreless draw.
“We'll watch the film and work on some final-third movements for sure, to be a little sharper. But that was a big, tall, athletic, strong team, and they were well organized, especially in the first half. So it wasn't easy,” said Schmetzer postgame.
“My message is always if we can keep a clean sheet, I believe we have enough attacking talent in this squad to find a goal or two. … There were a few nervy moments on set pieces and some other stuff. So we'll have to look at that. But overall, yes, we're very, very, very pleased with the defending performance."
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei also pointed out that the result should be a celebrated merit, given the team’s fitness.
“The fact that we were able to possess the ball towards the end of the game and get them tired when they're five, six games into their season already was nice to see,” said Frei, who made four saves.
Motagua are five games into regular-season play in the Honduran league, while the Seattle Sounders are coming off a lengthy offseason. The MLS side had no official friendlies scheduled prior to their CCL clash.
“We simply don't have midseason form yet in terms of fitness," Frei continued. "So I think we were smarter in the way we played this game. We took our time when we needed to, on set pieces, restarts. We were also a bit smarter with our possession, making them chase and tiring them out a little bit. So all those things help to make sure you have enough gas in the tank to see out the 90-plus minutes.”
The Sounders are set to host Motagua on February 24 at Lumen Field, giving the Major League Soccer team few days to hone in on their offense.
Reigning Major League Soccer champions NYCFC stand as the only American side to have won their first leg CCL match. The Colorado Rapids lost 1-0 to Comunicaciones and CF Montreal suffered a 1-0 defeat to Liga MX’s Santos Laguna.
New England Revolution’s matches against Cavaly were cancelled after the Haitian side struggled to obtain the correct paperwork needed to travel, moving the MLS side directly into quarter finals.