SEATTLE - If you blinked, you missed it.
And if you’re Sigi Schmid, if you turned your head after subbing on your top goal-scorer over the last two seasons in the 60th minute of a scoreless match, you missed it too.
That’s how quickly Fredy Montero scored the lone goal in a 1-0 Sounders FC victory over Isidro Metapan in the first leg of an aggregate goal series.
“I subbed him on and I had just turned, so I didn’t see the shot,” Schmid admitted after the match. “That’s what happens. You take your eyes off of him for a second and he scores a goal.”
Montero stepped on the turf in the 60th minute to replace Nate Jaqua after a Metapan foul gave Seattle a free kick from just inside of 40 yards out on the right side of the field. Osvaldo Alonso rolled the ball off to Montero and the Colombian forward blasted a shot from distance that swerved down at the last moment to handcuff Misael Alfaro. The Metapan goalkeeper dove to his right and got in front of the ball, but it spun away from him as it hit the ground and Alfaro couldn’t recover it in time to keep it from crossing the line for a Sounders FC goal.
Montero has three goals and five assists over the last seven Major League Soccer matches and carried that momentum into the Sounders FC’s first ever international competition. He also tried several long-range shots over the previous few matches, but none found the scoreboard.
None, at least, until Wednesday night.
“It was a three-point goal. We always try to make it beautiful,” Montero said. “This time it wasn’t so beautiful, but it was incredibly important and I’m very happy about it.”
Seattle out-shot their El Salvadorian visitors 15-2 on the night and Kasey Keller only had to make one save on the night to preserve the clean sheet.
Seattle took advantage of a distinct advantage in athleticism in the first half. Sanna Nyassi repeatedly beat his defender to the endline for crosses into the box, but Seattle couldn’t find the final touch and went into the half scoreless, but with a 7-0 advantage in shots.
That dominance continued in the second half and Metapan didn’t manage to test Keller until after Montero gave Seattle the lead. Seattle force Alfaro into three second half saves in a game that was marred by physical play. In addition to the 37 fouls called during the match, there were also seven yellow cards issued.
We had chances to score more goals than just the one and we’re disappointed that we didn’t get more, but it’s most important not to give up a goal at home,” Schmid said. “My plan all along was to play to zero at home and score as many goals as we could.”
Metapan came to Seattle admittedly hoping to escape with a draw and used stall tactics after the goal to keep the damage manageable. On three occasions in the second half, Metapan had players on the field prompting visits from the medical staff only to return to the pitch moments later with no ill-effects.
Seattle carries the 1-0 lead into San Salvador for the second leg of the series on Tuesday night. The winner of the aggregate goal series will advance to the Champions League Group Stage beginning August 17 and extending to October 21.
Sounders FC - Fredy Montero (Osvaldo Alonso) 60
Isidro Metapan - None.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi, Peter Vagenas (Osvaldo Alonso 14), Mike Seamon, Miguel Montano (Steve Zakuani 57), Nate Jaqua (Fredy Montero 60), Roger Levesque.
Isidro Metapan - Misael Alfaro, Jose Alvarado, Erick Prado, Ernesto Aquino, Moises Menendez (Mark Lester Blanco 69), Oscar Jimenez, Hector Mejia, Emerson Umana, Rodolfo Suarez (Andres Flores 80), Anel Canales, Josue Flores (Jorge Luis Moran 87).