By Money Mike
The Seattle Sounders got back to business and picked up where they left off last season, scoring goals. The Sounders came away with a 2-1 victory over a talented Santos Laguna side in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal. The second leg will be next wednesday on Santos's home ground before Seattle opens up MLS play at home against Toronto FC on March 17. One thing that's going to stand out heading into the second leg is the away goal by Santos. I just hope that it doesn't come back to bite Seattle and that they would ease their way through to the semifinal where they would have the home field advantage in the second leg.
Seattle got things going early in the match. In the 5th minute, Mauro Rosales had a go from outside the penalty area, but there wasn't much on it and Oswaldo Sanchez made an easy save in the center of the goal. Two minutes later, Fredy Montero got on the end of an Adam Johansson cross, but again it came to nothing.
In the 12th minute, first blood went to Seattle. Fredy Montero sent in a beautiful curling ball to the far post for a free header from David Estrada and he made no mistake, a downward header past the keeper Oswaldo Sanchez and in the back of the net to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead. Estrada, who hasn't seen much playing time in his first two seasons here and looked ready to leave the club, got the start today over Eddie Johnson and he delivered by scoring his first professional goal. Seattle had another opportunity in the 18th minute. Adam Johansson once again whipped in a good cross for Fredy Montero. This time the header was on target, but Sanchez got his hand to it to force it wide. Santos started creating opportunities in the last 15 minutes of the first half but failed to find the back of the net. Seattle's last real opportunity in the first half came from Alvaro Fernandez. A curler to the far post from just outside the area that just sailed over the bar.
Things went pretty quiet in the first 15 minutes of the second half in terms of creating chances, but then in the 61st minute, Santos Laguna struck back. Marc Crosas sent in a little chip into the penalty area and found Herculez Gomez making a diagonal run in front of Sounders left back Leonardo Gonzalez. Gomez turned and slotted the ball past Michael Gspurning and into the far corner of the net to tie this match up at a goal a peice. I don't know if Gspurning got a touch on that, but that was poor defending though by Gonzalez. That is a vital away goal for Santos Laguna because that puts a little pressure on the Sounders heading into the second leg on their home ground which is really a difficult place to play. However, it didn't take long for Seattle to hit back and re gain the lead.
In the 63rd minute, Mauro Rosales sent in a free kick from the far side of the pitch, an inswinger into the six yard box where Brad Evans battled off a Santos defender and headed it over Oswaldo Sanchez and into the bottom left corner of the net to restore Seattle's one goal lead. From there, Seattle looked content to hold the lead in their first competitive match of the year 2012 and they nearly got a third goal as Eddie Johnson, who entered the match for Alvaro Fernandez in the 78th minute, nearly made an immediate impact and his header in the 80th minute missed wide of goal. That was just about the last scoring chance as Seattle hold's on for a 2-1 win.
I tell you what from what I've seen, Oribe Peralta sure had a rough ass time out there for Santos Laguna. He did have a couple of looks at goal in this match, but both center backs Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado did very well to shut him down and keep him off the score sheet in this match. I had Peralta as one of the players to watch on my match preview, saying that if the center backs get caught sleeping, Peralta would make them pay big time. So I think the backline did a pretty good job defensively in this match, not to mention the goal by Herculez Gomez. Personally though, I think these guys need to tighten up a bit defensively in the second leg because there were some openings that Santos found, but fortunately for the Sounders they were unable to take advantage of that.
We had a lot of pushing and shoving from the players in this match and the referee did a poor job in this one. Seven yellow cards were isssued in this game and the referee did a poor job keeping the players under control and that will just piss every soccer fan off, including me. It's just rediculous when you have a lot of brawls in a match as well as cards that should've been issued to players and haven't. This happened in the preliminary match here at home against San Francisco F.C. Every a match turns into a bitch fight between both teams and the referee's don't do anything about it, then it's pretty obvious they shouldn't be officiating any matches at all. Not even friendlies.
It was really an exciting night for Seattle and the Sounders. I was at the match, I enjoyed it. I was hoping for a better result in this match, but I'll take the 2-1 win. Right now, the away goal by Herculez Gomez could be the factor in this series. Hopefully, Seattle can hang on and advance to the Champions League semifinal.
Seattle Sounders FC - David Estrada (Fredy Montero, Leonardo Gonzalez) 12'
Santos Laguna - Herculez Gomez (Marc Crosas) 61'
Seattle Sounders FC - Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales) 63'
Santos Laguna - Juan Pablo Rodriguez (caution; Dangerous play) 28'
Santos Laguna - Osmar Mares (caution; Dissent) 29'
Seattle Sounders FC - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution; Foul) 33'
Seattle Sounders FC - Leonardo Gonzalez (caution; Foul) 58'
Santos Laguna - Oswaldo Sanchez (caution; Dissent) 65'
Santos Laguna - Santiago Hoyos (caution; Dissent) 80'
Seattle Sounders FC - David Estrada (caution; Dangerous play) 89'
Santos Laguna - Oswaldo Sanchez; Ivan Estrada, Aaron Galindo, Santiago Hoyos, Osmar Mares; Marc Crosas, Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Rodolfo Salines 84'), Daniel Luduena (Candido Ramirez 74'); Cristian Suarez, Herculez Gomez (Carlos Ochoa 84'), Oribe Peralta
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leonardo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Eddie Johnson 78'); David Estrada (Marc Burch 89'), Fredy Montero