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Costa Ricans slow down Sounders express
by Ridge Mahoney, September 21st, 2011 1:39AM
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TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mls


[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Seattle's previously unimpeded run to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals ran into a roadblock Tuesday at CenturyLink Field. Herediano, beaten 2-1 by Seattle in Costa Rica last week, handed the Sounders their first Group D setback with a 1-0 victory secured by a goal by Yosimar Arias in the 25th minute. It was just the second goal scored by Herediano in group play but sufficient to taint what had been a perfect mark.

Arias scored with a free kick from about 26 yards out on the left side. He curled the ball over the defensive wall and it cleared Kasey Keller’s desperate dive on its way into the top corner. The goals scored by Herediano in its two games against the Sounders are the only goals it has tallied in group play.

Despite the loss, Seattle (3-1-0, 9 pts.) retained the group lead when Monterrey beat Comunicaciones, 3-1, to leave those teams tied for second with 2-1-0 records and six points. By beating the Sounders, Herediano (1-3-0, 3 pts.) preserved its faint hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds.

Fredy Montero, who stormed through Herediano last week and scored both goals, did not start the match, and when he did enter the game in the second half, he labored in the absence of attacking catalysts Mauro Rosales (injured) and Alvaro Fernandez (suspended). Coach Sigi Schmid sent out a three-forward alignment with Roger Levesque, Nate Jaqua and Pat Noonan up top, but sporadic service from midfield starved that trio of opportunities.

Servando Carrasco and Lamar Neagle worked hard to forge openings without much success. Schmid brought on Osvaldo Alonso and Montero in the 56th minute, and recent signing Sammy Ochoa debuted for Seattle in the 74th. The moves yielded chances in the final 10 minutes but Herediano goalkeeper Daniel Cambronero proved to be unbeatable.

Cambronero snagged a Neagle header in the 82nd minute, and repelled a Ochoa header with a spectacular flying save in the 89th. The latter stop produced a corner kick and though several unmarked Sounders charged to meet the ball at the near post, a header bounced wide.

Seattle, playing its fourth game in 11 days, lost for only the second time in the past 12 matches. It plays at Comunicaciones next week and finishes group play at home against Monterrey Oct. 18. Herediano next plays at Monterrey and finishes up at home with Comunicaciones.

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