SEATTLE — Herculez Gomez scored the lone goal as Seattle Sounders FC fell to Santos Laguna, 1-0, in the first leg of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday night at CenturyLink Field.
The two-game, aggregate-goal series will conclude next Tuesday in Torreon, Mexico and Santos owns an all-important away goal that could come into play as a tiebreaker.
“Obviously it’s a home game so you don’t want to lose your home game,” Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “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. 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.”
In the 54th minute, Carlos Quintero’s shot from the top of the box was stopped by a diving Marcus Hahnemann, but Gomez rocketed the rebound into the top right corner of the net to put Santos up 1-0. It was Gomez’s fourth goal in three career games against Sounders FC after scoring three times in the 2011-12 CCL Quarterfinals.
“I don’t recall whose shot forced a good save out of Marcus Hahnemann, but I was fortunate to get on the end of the rebound, that was pretty much all that happened, after that it was just a blur,” Gomez said. “It feels good coming back (to Seattle). The objective for us was to come out of it with a win. We wanted to definitely put them on their heels, and definitely try to go at them at home, and set a good tone for the second match. We know they’re a good team so we’re happy with our performance. Obviously like coach said we could do a lot better, especially on the defensive side of our organization, but we’ll take the win.”
Despite not scoring, Seattle finished with 13 shots-including nine in the second half-and held the majority of possession, finishing with an 11-1 advantage in corner kicks.
In the 20th minute, a deep free kick found Brad Evans in the box, but his header was saved by Santos keeper Oswaldo Sanchez. Moments before the Santos goal, Osvaldo Alonso got off an open shot from the top of the box that was saved, and in the 86th minute Mario Martinez’s cross found Zach Scott for a header from 10 yards out that went right to the keeper.
Goalkeeper Hahnemann made his 2013 debut, starting in place Michael Gspurning, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. It marked the second appearance of the tournament for Hahnemann, who started in Seattle’s 3-1 home win over CD Marathon in the group stage on October 24, 2012.
Shalrie Joseph made his Sounders FC debut tonight with a start at midfield. The 11-year MLS veteran was acquired via trade from Chivas USA on February 19.