[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to beat a Mexican club in a knockout series since the launch of the Concacaf
Champions League in 2008 when it defeated Liga MX leader Tigres, 3-1, in the second leg of their quarterfinal series to win, 3-2, on aggregate before 20,520 fans at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle came back from 1-0 down at the half -- 2-0 on aggregate -- on long-range shots from defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore and the series winner by Eddie Johnson from almost no angle. Tigres brought a "B" team to Seattle and struggled in the second half after captain Manuel Viniegra was sent off just before halftime.
It did not look good for the Sounders when Elias Hernandez -- one of only six players Tigres brought who have even played in the Torneo Clausura -- scored on a header in the 23rd minute after Alberto Acosta brushed aside a challenge from Yedlin.
But Yedlin, Seattle's first homegrown signing, atoned for his mistake in the 53rd minute when he hit a volley from 30 yards that appeared to deflect off a Tigres defenders and took a bounce before beating keeper Jorge Dias de Leon.
Seven minutes later, Traore, the former Liverpool defender signed late in pre-season, scored in similar fashion, gathering a clearance and hitting a blast from even father out that struck off the underside of the crossbar, giving de Leon no chance.
Down to 10 men, Tigres desperately tried to hang on, but Steve Zakuani fed Johnson, who broke in from the left wing and slipped a shot past de Leon for the deciding goal in the 75th minute. Tigres would have advanced via the away goals rule if the game had finished 2-1.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said the red card to Viniegra for two yellow cards changed the complexion of the game.
"Certainly, the red card helped us in that regard," he said. "It allowed us to go into a more offensive set in the second half. We went a lot more of a 3-5-2, pushed DeAndre [Yedlin] high on that right side and pushed Mauro Rosales, and later Mario Martinez, inside. Obviously you can't say anything but outstanding things about all three goals. Those were some fantastic goals by DeAndre, but Djimi Traore, and by Eddie Johnson."
The Sounders became just the third MLS club to advance to the final four of the new Concacaf Champions League. Both other times, MLS teams beat other MLS teams: Real Salt Lake over Columbus in 2011 and Toronto FC over Los Angeles in 2012. In 2002, the Kansas City Wizards beat Santos Laguna in a two-game series in the old Concacaf Champions Cup.
"It feels great," added Schmid. "We wanted to win. We felt we could win. We felt we could step up the pressure and play much better than we played down there. I'm very proud of what the guys accomplished and to be the first is always a good thing."
Two other MLS teams have a chance to advance to the semifinals Wednesday against regional competition. The Houston Dynamo takes a 1-0 lead into its game at Santos Laguna (TV: Fox Soccer, Univision Deportes, 8 p.m. ET) and the LA Galaxy and Herediano of Costa Rica are 0-0 heading into their game at the Home Depot Center (TV: Fox Soccer, Univision Deportes, 10 p.m. ET).
Defending champion Monterrey moved into the semifinals with a 4-2 aggregate win (1-1 tie at home after 3-1 win on the road) over Xelaju of Guatemala.