Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Despite strong start, Sounders eliminated from Leagues Cup by Monterrey

Jayda Evans Seattle Times

Delirium filled Lumen Field before the players could break a sweat.

The Sounders needed a minimum three-goal win Sunday in order to advance in the Leagues Cup tournament. Two were pocketed before the 10-minute mark.

Hats, arms, flags, babies and beers were flung into the air in pure jubilation with the Sounders on the turf. C.F. Monterrey, the Liga MX powerhouse that’s won five CONCACAF Champions League titles, was equally shocked because the scenario is a rarity in soccer.

Everything was truly possible and not some fantastical buzz words teams spout about getting started on the front foot. No, after heading home the second goal in the sixth minute, Sounders forward Jordan Morris dug the ball out of the back of the net and jogged to center circle for the restart — his emphatic placement seemingly being the true start of the match.

As the delirium from majority of the 33,508 in attendance settled, Los Rayados gained their footing in the match. By halftime the Sounders were back where they started — needing three goals to advance in the Leagues Cup tournament.

But there wasn’t a second dose of chaos. The Sounders were eliminated after a 4-2 loss. Monterrey (2-0) and Real Salt Lake (1-1) clinched the West 2 group seeds.

The Sounders (0-2) have a 20-day layoff before it resumes MLS competition with a match against Atlanta United on Aug. 20 at Lumen. They (10-8-6) are fourth in Western Conference standings and have 10 league matches remaining.

Defender Hector Moreno got the party started for Sounders fans Sunday. The Liga MX star was shown a yellow card in the opening minute for a hard foul against Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz. Teammate Nico Lodeiro lined up for the free kick just outside the box and curled the shot over the wall and into goal with his powerful left foot in the second minute. Moreno was the last defender who couldn’t head the ball away

A brisk five minutes later, winger Leo Chu split two Monterrey players to take possession of the ball on the left flank, then blitzed past them to get a cross to Morris, who headed it home.

Los Rayados killed the vibe in the 31st minute. Striker German Berterame collected the rebound of a Stefan Cleveland block and got it past the keeper for the side’s opening goal.

In the 45th minute, Chu made a questionable backward pass to midfielder Albert Rusnak in their own box, Rusnak clipping Moreno. An immediate penalty was called. Berterame lined up at the spot and notched his brace.

The Argentine opened the second showing off his passing skills. His service at the edge of the box to midfielder Jordi Cortizo for a right-footed goal put Monterrey up 3-2 in the 48th minute.

Fantasy returned as the goal count needed for Seattle to advance increased to four.

The only magic was Berterame pocketing a hat trick in the 63rd minute with Cleveland off his line. Berterame also moved into the Leagues Cup Golden Boot race with five total goals in the tournament.

Now the Sounders needed five goals in the waning 27 minutes.

It didn’t happen.

Monterrey coach Fernando Ortiz, who took over the club in May, had a short turnaround to prepare for the Sounders. His team defeated Real Salt Lake 3-0 on the road last week.

Ortiz made two changes to his starting lineup and three subs at the break. He put his academy players in the match in the 69th minute.

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer made three lineup changes for Sunday’s must-win match. Two were forced in midfielder Cristian Roldan (concussion) and keeper Stefan Frei (finger) being unavailable due to injuries.

Morris and Cleveland replaced them in the starting lineup while midfielder Obed Vargas was swapped for Lodeiro. But the latter didn’t return to the field as captain as the Uruguayan has been for at least the past five years, when able to start. Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo was instead given the captain’s armband.

Lodeiro missed the Real Salt Lake loss due to an adductor injury.

Schmetzer made his in-game substitutions in the 69th minute, putting in forward Heber (Rusnak) and midfielder Reed Baker-Whiting (Alex Roldan). Former academy players Josh Atencio (Joao Paulo) and Cody Baker (Nouhou) entered in the 78th minute.

Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade was shown a red card for an elbow in the 88th minute. He briefly wore the captains armband and it switched to Ruidiaz.