[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Despite an early goal by Roger Levesque that provided a 1-0 lead, Seattle lost its Concacaf Champions League opener to Honduran club Marathon, 2-1, in San Pedro Sula Thursday night.
Orvin Paz equalized in the 27th minute and Nicolas Cardozo converted a penalty kick in the final minute of the first half to cancel out Seattle’s goal. Levesque drove home a low shot from 15 yards out after Blaise Nkufo had touched a Fredy Montero diagonal ball into his path for a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
The result moves Marathon atop Group C with Monterrey, which beat Saprissa of Costa Rica, 1-0, on Tuesday. In the next round of games Seattle hosts Monterrey on Wednesday and Marathon plays at Saprissa Thursday.
Montero capitalized on a stumble by defender Adolfo Machado to steal the ball and cut it back from near the goal line. Nkufo’s slight re-direction steered into the path of a wide-open Levesque, who took his time and cleanly beat keeper Shane Orio.
To tie the game, Paz raced from midfield to control a flick by Randy Diamond. Paz evaded Osvaldo Alonso’s challenge with a clever touch that set him up to strike a shot along the ground that Kasey Keller couldn’t get down to stop. The winning goal resulted from an attempted clearing kick by Tyrone Marshall that missed the ball and instead took out Diamond as he lunged to block. Cardozo slammed his shot high down the middle as Keller dove to the right.
In the 78th minute, substitute Mike Seamon headed a Nathan Sturgis corner kick off the crossbar. Montero fluffed a great chance to equalize in the final minute when a miscue left the ball at his feet in point-blank range, but his hasty shot skipped a foot wide.
More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for the Sounders’ game at Qwest Field against Monterrey on Wednesday. Seattle returns to MLS play Aug. 28 at home against Chicago.
Aug. 19 in San Pedro Sula
Marathon 2 Seattle Sounders 1. Goals: Paz 27, Cardozo (pen.) 45; Levesque 17.
Marathon – Orio, M.Palacios (Crisanto, 77), Henriques, Norales, C.Palacios, Machado, Berrios, Paz, Amarilla (Flores, 46), Diamond (Mejia, 69), Cardozo.
Seattle Sounders – Keller, Riley, Parke, Marshall, Gonzalez, Sturgis, Alonso, Montero, Fernandez (Seamon, 69), Levesque (Estrada, 87), Nkufo (Jaqua, 64).
Referee: Juan Carlos Guerra (Guatemala).