Sounders break through for MLS with win over Mexican side


SEATTLE — Sounders FC made MLS history Tuesday, and made it look good.

Defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore scored a pair of world-class goals on long-range strikes, and forward Eddie Johnson later added a series winner as Seattle completed a comeback for the ages in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Mexico’s Tigres UANL.

The Sounders won the two-game series by a 3-2 aggregate score following the 3-1 win in front of 20,520 at CenturyLink Field and, in the process, became the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent in the knockout rounds of the CCL since the regional tournament changed formats in 2008-09.

Only one MLS team has ever advanced to the tournament final: Real Salt Lake two years ago.

Seattle will face the winner of a series between the Houston Dynamo and Mexico’s Santos Laguna for a chance to become the second. The CCL semifinals will be played April 2-4 (first leg) and 9-11 (second leg).

The Sounders’ comeback was aided just before halftime when Tigres midfielder Manuel Viniegra was ejected upon receiving a second yellow card in the game.

Seattle, trailing 2-0 in the series, quickly took advantage, though the first goal came from an unlikely source: Yedlin, a 19-year-old rookie. The local product scored on a scorching volley from about 30 yards away, which benefited from a slight deflection as it sailed past goalkeeper Jorge Diaz de Leon.

The highlight-reel strike ended the Sounders’ 252-minute scoreless streak to start the year.

Perhaps an even better goal was coming.

That came from Traore, a veteran newcomer who sent the social-media world aflutter with an amazing left-footed blast from about 35 yards away.

Traore was also a part of a memorable comeback with Liverpool in 2005, when the English club scored three second-half goals to beat Italy AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final.

The comeback was completed in the 75th minute, when Eddie Johnson somehow managed to sneak a shot past Diaz de Leon from the tightest of angles, which sent the crowd into frenzy.

Tigres nearly spoiled the party in stoppage time, but forward Alan Pulido pulled a shot just wide.

The Mexican league leaders played only two of the same starters from last week’s first leg, a 1-0 win in Monterrey, and left most of the team’s stars back home. Both of those players factored into the game’s opening goal, however, as forward Elias Hernandez hammered in a cross from midfielder Alberto Acosta in the 23rd minute.

Allowing three goals in the second half, however, put them on the wrong side of history.