Pre-game speculation was that Santos Laguna would be the best team that Sounders FC will face this season.
The Sounders better hope so.
Santos crushed the Sounders 6-1 Wednesday night in Torreon, Mexico, finishing with a 7-3 aggregate victory in the home-and-home quarterfinal series. The Mexican Primera Division team moves on to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals against the winner of the Toronto-LA Galaxy match played last night.
The Sounders return home, a little dazed after beating Santos at the Clink 2-1 a week earlier and then seeing their international aspirations shredded, at least temporarily.
The game was nearly lost in the first 10 minutes when Santos scored twice, first by Christian Suarez in the eighth minute and then by Oribe Peralta, who spun 360 degrees around Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to put the hosts up 2-0.
The Sounders held interest when Alvaro Fernandez scored on a header following a brilliant cross from Fredy Montero in the 37th minute to trail 2-1 at halftime. Because away goals count double in CCL play the Sounders were tied in the aggregate.
But Santos turned on the second-half heat right away, scoring in the 48th minute on an easy pop for Herculez Gomez off a feed from Peralta. The game-breaker came in the 68th minute, when another pass from Peralta landed on the feet of Gomez, who scored despite being pushed from behind and falling down.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said the size of the defeat may prompt changes.
"Certainly there are probably some changes we need to make in our team because of fatigue and maybe performance, as well," he said. “We need to show our character. I’ll think about it more tomorrow. It’s about standing back up. It’s easy to go hide after a loss like this.”
The routed Sounders lost concentration in the late going, allowing the score to run up to a level unseen since the friendly against Manchester United last season.
“Defensively, I thought we had a poor game today," Schmid said. "I think they won the duels. They won a lot of the duels. When they win all the 50/50 balls, its tough for your team to gain momentum. From that standpoint it was disappointing.
"It’s easy to point fingers and say this guy or that guy didn’t have a good game. As a coaching staff, we need to look at it and we need to see what we need to do to avoid these kind of things in the future.”
The defeat was the 11th in a row for a U.S. side in Mexico during CONCACAF play. The Warriors were aggressors throughout. The Sounders back line had little hope against the talented Mexicans, who are tied for the lead in their home league.
After a 5-0-2 mark in preseason and the home win over Santos in the first leg, the defeat was the Sounders' first in 2012. They finished the CONCACAF 2011-12 series with a 5-4-1 record. Major League Soccer play begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Clink against Toronto FC.