Courtesy Sounders FC
SEATTLE – The Sounders FC went into their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal matchup against Santos Laguna needing a positive result to head into the second leg with an opportunity to win the series.
Unlike their quarterfinal series against Tigres UANL, though, the 1-0 defeat in the first leg at CenturyLink Field was much less desirable in the first leg than the loss by the same score line in Monterrey, Mexico.
The Sounders were left without starting forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins because of injury and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning because of suspension. Even David Estrada was out with an injury, leaving head coach Sigi Schmid with some lineup shuffling.
Schmid's blue-collar lineup did the work to keep Santos within striking distance by holding the volatile side scoreless in the first half, but Santos Laguna would get a second half goal against the run of play by US National Team forward Herculez Gomez.
The hard-working, ball-control lineup dominated possession in the early stages of the match and held a distinct advantage when it came to winning duels. By the end of the first half, some of those numbers had evened out, but the Sounders were still able to limit Santos to just two shots on goal, both of which were saved without much exertion from goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
On the other end, Evans had two shots in quick succession in the 19th and 20th minutes and Martinez provided flare for Seattle, though he managed just one shot and set up another from Ochoa late in the half.
In the 53rd minute, the Sounders had three consecutive corners and Osvaldo Alonso ultimately had his cracking shot from the top of the box saved by Oswaldo Sanchez.
Santos took possession and turned it the other way with Carlos Quintero shooting a contested shot from the top of the box. Hahnemann blocked the shot from Quintero, but Gomez crashed on the rebound and banged it inside the far post for his ninth Champions League goal and a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.
In the 86th minute, Zach Scott cracked a header off a ball from the right side, but Sanchez was there to make the stop and the Sounders were unable to generate any more scoring chances in the match.
The Sounders will have the weekend off before heading to Torreon, Mexico for the second leg on April 9.