By MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
GUATEMALA CITY - Osvaldo Alonso chose quite the day to have his top scoring performance for the Sounders FC.
In dire need of goals at the close of both halves of their match against Comunicaciones in the fifth match of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, Alonso came up big, scoring in the 44th and 89th minutes to give Seattle a 2-2 draw and advance them through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
“It’s tremendous,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We set it as a goal that we wanted to advance and to have assured us of advancement with a game to go, I couldn’t be prouder and I think it’s great for the organization.”
Adding to Alonzo’s celebratory mood was that he had an opportunity to wish his wife a happy birthday on the nationally televised broadcast after he scored his first goal.
“It’s special because we’ll go to the second round and it’s my wife’s birthday. I’m very happy for that and I got two goals for her,” Alonso said.
Much like their match in Seattle in August, las Cremas jumped on the Sounders early in the match to take the lead. This time, it came off the foot of Transito Montepeque.
Seattle controlled a lot of the possession in the opening minutes, but Comunicaciones sprung a quick counter attack that caught Seattle a bit off guard.
Carlos Mejia played a long ball over the top and Montepeque got in behind Seattle’s defense, going one-on-one with Keller. Seattle’s goalkeeper came off his line, leaving Montepeque just enough room to chip over the top, off the underside of the crossbar and in for a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.
Seattle was not to be denied though and Alonso had consecutive efforts in the 44th minute to finally get the Sounders on the board just before the halftime whistle.
First, Alonso hit a powerful shot from the top of the box right into the chest of Rafael Morales and away for a Seattle throw from the right side. Zach Scott launched a long throw into the box that bounced around until it found the hard-swinging right boot of Alonso, ricocheting off a defender and into the net for the equalizer.
It looked like Seattle would take a lead early in the second half too. In the 60th minute they had a great series as the defense holds strong to stop a Comunicaciones threat in the box, then turned the ball the other way and Alvaro Fernandez charged up the middle. He played it to the right for Mike Fucito who went 1v1 with the keeper, but was stoned by Juan Paredes and las Cremas bounced right back minutes later to take the lead.
Off of a corner kick in the 63rd minute, Keller tried to punch the ball clear, but it fell to Morales and he took advantage, hammering it into the net for the 2-1 lead.
As the minutes wound down, Seattle put the pressure to the home side again.
In the 85th minute, they looked to have the equalizer in hand, but Fredy Montero hit the crossbar from the top of the box and Paredes collided with Alvaro Fernandez while they both sought the rebound. The ball was cleared and it looked like hope was leaving the field.
Then Alonso stepped to the plate again in the 89th minute.
With all of their efforts put into finding the equalizer, Tyson Wahl was pressing up the left side. He laid a pass to Sammy Ochoa going up the left side of the box and Ochoa put the ball across the goal mouth toward the far post. Montero and his defender both met the ball at the same time and it spilled out to Alonso who touched it into the net for his second goal of the night, sending Seattle through to the quarterfinals at 3-1-1 (10 points).
“We’re fighting to the last minute and banging out the result,” Fucito said. “It was a tough environment to come down and play in and it shows our character and resilience. It’s a great result for us and a goal we wanted to reach, so it was great.”
The Sounders still have one match left in the Champions League group stage, hosting Monterrey on October 18 at CenturyLink Field. Then they will progress to the quarterfinals, which are slated to begin March 6-8, 2012. Seattle, who was the first club to qualify for the 2011-2012 tournament, is the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso 44; Osvaldo Alonso 89.
Comunicaciones - Transito Montepeque (Carlos Mejia) 7; Rafael Morales 63.
Sounders FC - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 87.
Comunicaciones - Erwin Morales (caution) 75.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg (Servando Carrasco 74), Lamar Neagle (Nate Jaqua 89), Mike Fucito (Sammy Ochoa 66), Fredy Montero.
Comunicaciones - Juan Paredes, Dagoberto Arriola, Edgard Martinez, Erwin Morales, Rafael Morales, Carlos Mejia, Fredy Thompson, Rigoberto Gomez (Jose Del Aguilo 46), Transisto Montepeque (Marvin Ceballos 57), Bryan Ordonez (Abner Trigueros 77), Carlos Ramirez.