[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The Seattle Sounders' slide continued as they fell to Santos of Mexico, 1-0, at home in the first leg of the semifinals of the
Concacaf Champions League. American Herculez Gomez scored the game's lone goal -- his ninth goal in the regional competition in the last two seasons -- to put
Santos in position to eliminate the short-handed Sounders for the second year in a row.
The goal came in the 53rd minute after Carlos Quintero fired a wicked shot from the top of the penalty area that Seattle keeper Marcus Hahnemann could only parry. Gomez swooped in to put away the rebound with a clinical finish into the far corner of the net.
Seattle had more of possession and fired 13 shots but never looked capable beating Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez. The loss left the Sounders with only one win in seven competitive games in 2013 -- they are 0-3-1 in MLS and 1-2-0 in the CCL -- but Seattle coach Sigi Schmid tried to look on the bright side.
"Obviously," he said, "it's a home game so you don't want to lose your home game. I thought we didn't play that poorly, I thought we did alright. They're a good team. Obviously, they're a very good team. Their front three are as dangerous a front three as you're going to run into anywhere. They got in a few times, but I thought for the most part we held them at bay, which was good. Obviously we were missing some people, so we just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. That's not impossible. It's difficult, but it's not impossible."
Strikers Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and David Estrada were both injured and did not play, while the Sounders' most dangerous attacking options in midfield, Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani, started on the bench.
"Estrada couldn't play because of his eye," said Schmid. "Eddie came out of the game [at Salt Lake]. We thought it was just his toe, but he complained of his hamstring, as well. With his hamstring, he couldn't go. Oba [Martins] tried to play in Salt Lake, had a little bit of an injury going into that game and tried to play -- something that had bothered him when he played with Nigeria. He felt he could maybe get through it, and that game didn't make it any better, it made it worse. We figured if we tried to play him today, we didn't know how long that would knock him out. Those three guys were not options for us."
Schmid hopes Johnson and Martins will be able to make it back for next week's second leg in Torreon.
The game marked the debut of MLS veteran Shalrie Joseph in midfield.
April 2 in Seattle
Seattle Sounders 0 Santos 1. Goal: Gomez 54.
Seattle Sounders -- Hahnemann; Yedlin, Traore, Scott, Gonzalez; Martinez, Evans (Rosales 73), Alonso, Joseph (Rose 73), Caskey (Zakuani 79); Ochoa.
Santos -- Sanchez, Baloy, J.Estrada, Mares, Figueroa, Salinas, Rodriguez, Crosas, Gomez, Peralta, Quintero (Cardenas 88).
Referee: Hector Rodriguez.