SEATTLE - It was déjà vu for the Sounders FC on Wednesday night.
Mike Fucito propelled the team to a 2-0 lead into the 70th minute in a CONCACAF Champions League match against CD Marathon at Qwest Field, just like they did in an away match against Monterrey last week. However, unlike last week’s match when they allowed three goals in a four-minute stretch, Seattle held on to top Marathon 2-0 for their first group stage victory in the Champions League.
Fucito scored twice and goalkeeper Terry Boss saved the only Marathon shot that threatened the net and Seattle earned their first points in the group stage.
“It’s a relief to finally get our first win. We’ve been a little unlucky and been in some games that we should have won and we’ve had some lapses where we weren’t playing well and let the game slip,” defender Tyson Wahl said. “It’s exciting.”
In a first half that saw Seattle control most of the possession, Fucito put them on top in the 21st minute when he tracked down a bouncing ball, beat his defender, then ripped a shot past the goalkeeper for his second goal in the Champions League to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.
“I just saw that the defender was kind of running back. I figured I’d take a chance and pressure him,” said Fucito, who has one goal in MLS play. “I was able to kind of poke my head in and get by him and then finish.”
Marathon nearly evened the score in the 30th minute, but Boss made a snap save on a ball by Erick Norales off of a corner kick, knocking the ball clear and preserving the early 1-0 lead.
Into the second half, Marathon began to open up further and Seattle took advantage, taking eight second half shots.
Miguel Montaño nearly added to the lead in the 51st minute with two great chances, but goalkeeper Orlin Vallencillo made the two saves to keep the game close. First, Montaño picked the ball off on the left side, carried it into the box and blasted a low-angled shot that Vallencillo knocked through to the other side. However, Seattle maintained possession and the ball wound up back at the top of the box on the right side where Montaño fired off another shot. Vallencillo made the stop, but nearly spilled the ball into the net, diving to cover it up and push it outside the far post.
The second goal would come in the 68th minute though.
Marathon was called for a foul just outside the box and Fucito lined up over the free kick alongside the right-footed Mike Seamon. Montaño made a run over the ball, then, taking a cue from head coach Sigi Schmid, Fucito cleverly bent it around the wall with a blistering shot that found the back of the net for his second goal of the night and a 2-0 lead.
“The free kick just comes from Sigi,” Fucito said. “The other day in practice he had me trying some things in a similar situation where I was bending it over the wall and into the near post. After working on that for a little bit it translated to the game.”
One element that wasn’t quite as Schmid had planned was Montaño’s involvement in the play.
“Montano tried to weasel his way in there, but it was Fucito and Seamon that we wanted hitting the ball,” laughed Schmid, noting that things don’t always work just as he had written them up. “That happens like once or twice a year. It feels really good when it happens because it doesn't happen very often.”
All was not rosy for Fucito though. The second-year forward suffered an ankle sprain on the ensuing kickoff after his second goal and was subbed off in the 71st minute.
Seattle now has three points in Group C of the CONCACAF Champions League, but were eliminated from contention to advance out of the group stage after a 2-2 draw between Monterrey and Saprissa on Tuesday. Marathon remains on six points, trailing second place Saprissa (7 points) and top seeded Monterrey (13 points) in the race to reach the knockout stages.
Seattle will host Saprissa in the final match of the group October 19 at Qwest Field. However, next up is an MLS match against Toronto FC at Qwest Field on Saturday in a week at home that is book-ended by Wednesday night’s victory and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final next Tuesday against the Columbus Crew.
Sounders FC - Mike Fucito 21; Fucito 68.
Marathon - None.
Sounders FC - Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham, Tyson Wahl, David Estrada, Mike Seamon, Alvaro Fernandez (Peter Vagenas 62), Miguel Montaño (Leo Gonzalez 83), Mike Fucito (Sanna Nyassi 71), Roger Levesque.
Marathon - Orlin Vallencillo, Astor Henriquez, Mariano Acevedo, Erick Norales, Milton Palacios (Rony Flores 72), Mario Berrios, Adolfo Machado, Carlos Palacios, Elder Valladares, Hector Amarilla (Randy Diamond 73), Carlos Mejia.