[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Seattle did all the little things to prepare for its Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series against Santos, traveling to
Mexico in preseason for a single game and bringing another Mexican team to Seattle for another and sending advance scouts to prepare for the second leg in Torreon. It got an off weekend to prepare for
Wednesday's second leg, but it all went for naught. Santos blew out the Sounders, 6-1, to win the series 7-3 on aggregate.
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American Herculez Gomez scored the two decisive goals -- his fifth and sixth in his last four games for Santos -- in the second half as MLS frustration continued. No team has won a head-to-head knockout series against a Mexican team in the Champions League.
Santos looked set to blow out the Sounders with goals by Christian Suarez and Oribe Peralta in the 8th and 9th minutes, but Seattle held its own for the rest of the first half and evened the score on Alvaro Fernandez's goal on Fredy Montero's assist -- the Colombian's third in two games.
Seattle had its chances to add a second goal that would have meant Santos would have to score at least four goals, but the Sounders failed to convert.
"I thought at the end of the first half, the last 20 minutes, we put ourselves back in the game and we played better," said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. "We were a little unlucky early in the game when we had the good header from Fernandez that we could have scored on. Then we came out in the second half. Mauro Rosales had a chance, then they scored off the counter and made it 3-1. Then David Estrada had a good chance and we didn't put that away."
By contrast, Santos broke down the Seattle defense time and again for easy goals off counterattacks.
Gomez, who only joined Santos this winter and did not start until the last four games, put Santos back ahead on aggregate in the 48th minute when he was left alone in the area to slot home a pass from Suarez and made it 4-1 on the night, effectively ending Seattle's chances in the 67th minute when he finished off another counter after being set up by Ivan Estrada and Peralta.
Gomez was done for the night, limping off to be replaced by another U.S. product, Carlos Ochoa, who attended high school and college (Cal Baptist) in Southern California.
Suarez made it 5-1 in the 76th minute and Ochoa finished off the scoring four minutes later.
"When they made it 4-1," added Schmid, "I think we lost our concentration. We have to look at why we started the game slowly, why we started the second half slowly. I have to look at that and see what I can change to make sure that doesn't happen."
Schmid blamed the poor defending on a lack of concentration.
"Defensively, I thought we had a poor game today," he said. "I think they won the duels. They won a lot of the duels. When they win all the 50/50 balls, its tough for your team to gain momentum. From that standpoint it was disappointing. Like I say, it's easy to point fingers and say this guy or that guy didn't have a good game. Us as a coaching staff, we need to look at it and we need to see what we need to do to avoid these kind of things in the future."
The exit means Seattle can turn its attention to MLS, but when it opens against Toronto FC on Saturday it will probably be without new signing Eddie Johnson, who left the Santos game with a hip flexor injury.
March 14 in Torreon
Santos 6 Seattle Sounders 1. Goals: Suarez 8, 76, Peralta 9, Gomez 48, 67, Ochoa 80; Fernandez 36.
Santos -- Sanchez, I.Estrada, Galindo, Baloy, Mares, Crosas (Salinas, 32), Rodriguez, Luduena (Ramirez, 62), Suarez, Gomez (Ochoa, 69), Peralta.
Seattle Sounders -- Gspurning, Johansson, Parke, Hurtado, Gonzalez (Sivebaek, 76), Rosales, Alonso, Evans, Fernandez, Montero, D.Estrada (Johnson 61; Levesque 82).