[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The Seattle Sounders are on a roll in domestic play but it continues to be tough going for them in regional action. The two-time U.S. Open Cup champions crashed out in the group stage of the 2010-11 Concacaf Champions League and find themselves facing elimination in 2011-12 after falling to Panama's San Francisco FC in the first leg of their preliminary-round series at Panama City's Estadio Rommel Fernandez on Tuesday evening.
A first-half penalty kick by former MLS and USL-1 striker Roberto Brown sent the Sounders down to defeat after they had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions. Seattle has a club record nine-game (6-0-3) unbeaten run in MLS play.
A handball by Jeff Parke in the 27th minute led to Brown's penalty kick.
The Sounders' best chances came late in the game when Pat Noonan's header hit the left post and Alvaro Fernandez's rebound attempt was blocked by keeper Eric Hugues.
"We played well defensively and we made a mistake and they made us pay for it," said Noonan. "We had our chances. Fortunately, for us we are at halftime [of two-game series]. We are very confident we are going to go in and get the result back in Seattle."
Last year, Seattle beat Metapan of El Salvador at home and tied it away to advance to the group stage, where it lost its first four games and was eliminated.
The return leg will be Aug. 3 at CenturyLink Field. Before returning home, the Sounders will face Houston Saturday in Houston.
July 26 in Panama City
San Francisco FC (Pan.) 1 Seattle 0. Goal: Brown (pen.) 28.
San Francisco FC -- Hugues, Algadona, Torres, Gomez, Bonaga, Olivardia, de Avila (Graces 71), Jimenez (Panezo 44), Waite, Chen, Brown (Diaz 80).
Seattle -- Keller, Riley, Ianni, Parke, Gonzalez, Rosales, Alonso, Friberg (Noonan 75), Neagle (Fernandez 59), Montero, Levesque (Fucito 59).
Referee: David Espana (Guatemala).