Sounders turn back Santos Laguna
SEATTLE – The Sounders took a solid first step toward advancement in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday by beating Mexico’s Santos Laguna 2-1 in the first leg of a quarterfinal.
David Estrada and Brad Evans scored for Seattle in front of 23,433 fans at CenturyLink Field to essentially earn a “halftime” lead in the series.
The two-game, aggregate-goals quarterfinal will be settled on Wednesday at Estadio Nuevo Corona in Torreon, Mexico, where Santos is 4-0 in the tournament. Kickoff is 5 p.m.
Evans had the deciding goal in the 63rd minute, when he leapt high to powerfully head in a crossed free kick from midfielder Mauro Rosales. The score came 2 minutes after Santos had tied the game on a goal by forward Herculez Gomez, a U.S. international and former A-League Sounder in 2003.
The visitors pushed for a late equalizer and had a good chance in the 77th minute, but a driven shot by forward Christian Suarez was saved by Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Santos then had a shot by midfielder Candido Ramirez roll wide in the 88th minute. In the second minute of stoppage time, after a shot by Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso was blocked, Santos had a breakaway chance, but a pass across the face of Seattle’s goal went out for a goal kick. Lastly, in the dying moments, a corner kick by the Mexican side was cleared.
The Sounders started the game strongly, controlling the first few minutes, and justly earned a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Forward Fredy Montero provided the service on a carefully placed cross to the far post, where Estrada headed in a shot past keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
It was the first professional goal for Estrada, Seattle’s top draft pick in 2010. After two years without much of a first-team impact, the 24-year-old worked his way into the starting lineup this preseason.