Last year, Santos Laguna made it to the CONCACAF Champions League final, but that was the end of the road for them. Their dreams of a continental championship and a trip to the Club World Cup were dashed, or at least put off by a year.
Now Santos are one match away from a return to the final, where they could meet the same Monterrey team that beat them a year ago and get a chance at revenge. Santos aren't quite back in the final yet, though. The Seattle Sounders still stand in their way.
Seattle didn't provide much of an obstacle for Santos in the first leg. Playing without the injured Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins while Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani watched from the bench to start, Seattle was listless in the attack and Santos gave them fits on the counterattack. Herculez Gomez made one of those forays forward count, finishing smartly to earn the visitors a 1-0 win.
With a one-goal leading heading back to Torreon for the second leg, Santos are sitting pretty. They are the better team to begin with and now all they need is a draw at home to advance.
History is also on Santos' side, too. A year ago, these two teams met in the quarterfinals and when the Sounders went south of the border, everything came apart. Santos destroyed Seattle, 6-1. Gomez notched a brace in that match and Oribe Peralta added one of his own, a scary memory considering Seattle will be charged with stopping those two again on Tuesday night, with the dazzling Darwin Quintero also in the attack to accompany them.
Santos has been one of the few teams who have taken the Champions League seriously. Tigres didn't and that apathy helped the Sounders become the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican club in the last round, but Santos will do no such thing. They have a return to the final on the line, with continental championship and a spot in the Club World Cup that eluded them a year ago at stake once again.