[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] They gave up a goal to one of their former players but still the Seattle Sounders held serve at home by beating Santos Laguna of Mexico, 2-1, in the first leg of their quarterfinal at Century Link Field Wednesday.
Trailing 1-0 to a first-half David Estrada goal, Santos Laguna equalized when Herculez Gomez ran onto a diagonal ball clipped by Marc Crosas and rolled a shot inside the far post. Seattle struck right back less than two minutes later with a Brad Evans header from a superb Mauro Rosales free kick, and withstood some Santos pressure to preserve the advantage to the final whistle.
With crisp passing and intelligent movement, Seattle maintained possession for long stretches. Its workrate and pressure in all areas of the field helped subdue the attack of Santos, which had scored 16 goals in six group games.
In the first half, the Sounders carried much of the play before and after Estrada scored in the 12th minute. Fredy Montero drifted away from the back line and from midfield clipped a ball to the right side that Estrada headed past former Mexican international goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning’s toughest moment came in the 19th minute when Gomez smashed a shot from the right side that he deflected with a somewhat awkward lunge. Gspurning, in his first appearance before the home fans, easily handled a Crosas shot from distance later in the half and Santos put two other decent chances over the crossbar.
After falling behind for the second time, Santos pushed in search of another equalizer but generated only a few shots that either skipped wide or Gspurning covered with no trouble.
Eddie Johnson made his first appearance for an MLS team since 2007 when he replaced Alvaro Fernandez in the 78th minute. He got his head to a Rosales chip and headed it wide. Santos players appealed for a penalty kick in the final seconds when a cross struck the arm of Seattle right back Adam Johansson on the edge of the penalty area but referee Walter Quesada pointed for a corner kick instead.
The second leg is Wednesday at Estadio Corona in Torreon. The two-game series is decided by total goals. Seattle will advance with a tie; with its away goal, Santos holds the advantage if the aggregate score is even at the end of regulation of the second leg.
Quarterfinal, 1st leg
March 8 in Seattle
Seattle 2, Santos Laguna 1. Goals: D. Estrada 12, Evans 63; Gomez 61.
Santos Laguna – Sanchez, Mares, Galindo, Hoyos, J. Estrada, Crosas, Rodriguez (Salinas, 84), Ludueña (Ramirez, 74), Gomez (Ochoa, 84), Peralta, Suarez.
Seattle – Gspurning, Johansson, Hurtado, Parke, Gonzalez, Alonso, Evans, Fernandez (Johnson, 78), Rosales, Montero, Estrada (Burch, 93).
Referee: W. Quesada.