A second-half goal by Herculez Gomez gave Santos Laguna a 1-0 win over Sounders FC tonight at CenturyLink Field and a commanding position in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series.
The result means the Sounders will have to make up a goal when the series resolves next Tuesday in Torreon, Mexico. Road goals would serve as the first tie-breaker.
Seattle had to cobble together a makeshift lineup without forwards Eddie Johnson (toe), Obafemi Martins (leg) and David Estrada (eye) up front, and without goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (yellow card accumulation) in back.
Coach Sigi Schmid adapted by going with a 4-5-1 formation with Sammy Ochoa as the lone forward and Shalrie Joseph making his Sounders debut among the thicket of midfielders.
Santos brought its stars, but still started cautiously, seeming to follow the script that says a road draw is a satisfactory result.
However, they became more aggressive as the game progressed.
Santos broke through in the 54th minute, when Carlos Quintero hit a hard shot that Sounders goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was able to block but not control. Gomez was first to the loose back and scorched what proved to be the game-winner inside the far post.
The game was played before a crowd of 21,057.
The Sounders will return to training today and will begin their trip to Mexico on Sunday.
Major League Soccer freed up the Sounders’ schedule by rescheduling a league visit from Chivas USA originally scheduled for this weekend. Seattle’s next MLS match will be April 13 when New England visits.
54th minute: GOAL Santos. Herculez Gomez knocked one inside the far post after rebound of Hahnemann block. Santos 1-0. Road goal advantage, too.
Second half: … has begun. No lineup changes.
Halftime: Scoreless. Sounders seemed in control most of the way, with Santos coming on stronger over the final 20 minutes or so.
Shots, 8-4 Santos, on goal 2-0 Santos; corners 4-1 Seattle; duels 52.3% Seattle; possession 50.5% Seattle.
Nice first half for Ochoa. And Hahnemann has been solid.
Through 30: Still scoreless, but Santos getting forward a little more now.
First 15: Run of play strongly to Sounders. Santos very much laying back and seeming happy to let time tick uneventfully.
First kick: … has been struck, and we’re under way. Santos in white/green; Sounders in shale/shale.
Lineups: For Seattle: G Hahnemann; D Yedlin, Traore, Scott, Gonzalez; M Martinez, Evans, Alonso, Joseph, Caskey; F Ochoa. Reserves: Ford, Burch, Rosales, Zakuani, Rose, Neagle, Hurtado.
That’s right: No Johnson, Martins or Estrada.
Meanwhile, Santos is starting: GK Sanchez; D Baloy, Estrada, mares, Figueroa; M Salinas, Crosas, Rodriguez; F Gomez, Peralta, Quintero.
Pregame: There are tarps over the upper deck seats but not the end zones here at CenturyLink today. However, the indications are that most of even those seats will be unoccupied tonight as a crowd of around 20,000 is expected for the Sounders’ CONCACAF Champions League semifinal opener against Santos Laguna.
First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be shown on Fox Soccer and heard on 97.3 FM. We’ll also blog it here, and Twitter updates @donruiztnt.
It seems I say this every game, but lineups should be especially interesting tonight: Shalrie Joseph debut? Any forwards available other than Sammy Ochoa? (Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and David Estrada all in street clothes.) Should be interesting.