[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Osvaldo Alonso is known more for his tough tackles and occasional long-range launches than scrappy goals, yet by netting two of them Tuesday night he helped propel Seattle into the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. Alonso's equalizers, struck in the penultimate minute of each half, earned the Sounders a 2-2 tie against Comunicaciones in Guatemala City and a spot in the knockout round.
Seattle (3-1-1, 10 pts.) tops Group D, followed by Monterrey (3-2-0, 9 pts.) and Comunicaciones (2-2-1, 7 pts.). Even if it loses to Monterrey in the final group game, Seattle won the head-to-head series against Comunicaciones with a win and a tie in their two games, and cannot finish lower than second.
Fredy Montero produced the chance for Osvaldo’s second goal in the 89th minute by tussling for a Sammy Ochoa cross into the goalmouth and diverting it to Alonso, who banged it into the net from the edge of the six-yard box. He’d already tied the game at 1-1 in the 44th minute by hitting a poor clearance first-time back toward goal; it took a deflection and skipped past keeper Juan Paredes.
Though it thumped Comunicaciones, 4-1, in their first meeting at CenturyLink Field, Seattle had conceded the first goal, and it did so again, this time in the seventh minute. Carlos Mejia chipped a ball over the Sounders back line and Transito Montepeque caught keeper Kasey Keller cheating off his goal line by lobbing the bouncing ball over him and off the bottom of the crossbar into the net.
Bryan Ordonez nearly added a second goal for Comunicaciones in the 18th minute with a spectacular overhead kick directly from a corner kick; it zoomed over Keller but shook the crossbar. Alonso tied the game for the first time when Comunicaciones failed to clear a corner kick properly and his nicely struck, waist-high shot angled into the net.
Keller took the blame for the second Comunicaciones goal when his charge for a corner kick, rather than punching it clear, merely batted it down. Erwin Morales smacked it through a forest of legs to regain the lead for Comunicaciones.
Montero, whose spirited play was marred by poor decisions at critical moments, asserted himself in the last 15 minutes as the Sounders threw players forward. He headed a wonderful chip from Alvaro Fernandez just wide in the 82nd minute, and two minutes later looped a shot that hit the bottom of the bar and dropped a few yards from goal, where two converging opponents thwarted Fernandez’s desperate lunge to steer it over the line.
On its decisive attack, Seattle pressed down the left flank, and despite a drenched field and driving rain managed to stitch together some combination play between subs Ochoa and Servando Carrasco. When Ochoa’s cross floated into the goal area, Montero’s lunge past a defender kept the ball alive, and Alonso did the rest.