SEATTLE – The Sounders FC was happy to advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. However, they were by no means content to just sail into the next phase of the tournament with a match against Monterrey on Tuesday night that had first place in the group hanging in the balance.
Hence the frustration in head coach Sigi Schmid’s voice when he addressed the media after Seattle’s 2-1 defeat to the defending CCL champions at CenturyLink Field.
“I thought we had some good chances to score and didn’t take advantage of them. And I thought we gave up two soft goals,” Schmid said. “You can’t give up soft goals because you’re not always going to be able to resurrect yourself and score goals at the end of the game to win.”
Dario Carreno gave Monterrey the early lead in the third minute, but Fredy Montero scored to even the score by halftime. However, Seattle wasn’t able to get on top and Cesar Delgado scored in the second half to give Monterrey the win and the top spot in Group D. Seattle will advance to the quarterfinal as the second team from the group and will draw a group winner from one of the three other groups.
Humberto Suazo lifted a ball over the Seattle defense to Carreno charging into the box, leaving him one-on-one with Bryan Meredith, who was making his first start in a competitive match since winning the PDL Championship with the Kitsap Pumas on August 6. Carreno drew Meredith off his line, then shot inside the far post for the third-minute lead.
“Three minutes into the game on their first shot giving up a goal - it’s definitely not the way I wanted to start the game,” Meredith said. “After that I settled down and I felt pretty confident the rest of the game.”
Seattle applied pressure to Monterrey throughout the first half, but wasn’t able to score until the 42nd minute when Montero was brought down on a run up the middle, giving the Sounders a free kick from 25 yards out.
Montero and the left-footed Tyson Wahl lined up over the ball, but it was Montero who twisted a free kick through the Monterrey wall and inside the left post for his third goal in Champions League play and 18th across all competitions this year, equalizing the match just before halftime.
As the second half rolled to a start, the two teams battled to a stalemate in the midfield until an errant back pass got Monterrey on the offensive.
Suazo again got Monterrey an opportunity, but his shot was defended by Zach Scott. However, the rebound spilled to Cesar Delgado, who slotted it inside the far post past Meredith, who recovered well on the play but couldn’t get to the well-taken shot and Monterrey took the 2-1 edge.
The Sounders had two near-misses just after falling behind, but a header from Roger Levesque and a side-winding shot from Montero couldn’t find the net and the visitors held their lead. In the 76th minute, Patrick Ianni lunged to head a ball in the box off a free kick, but Juan de Dios Ibarra, who subbed on for the injured Jonathan Orozco in the second half, sprung to it and made the save.
The Sounders continued to press for the equalizer, but the Monterrey defense was up to the task and held them clear until the final whistle.
“We definitely gave them the game tonight and made some mistakes that we shouldn’t make,” defender Jeff Parke said. “We have to move on now and forget about this game because it’s more important that we go into the playoffs on a high.”
The Sounders now turn their attention solely to Major League Soccer, where they will finish the regular season on Saturday against Chivas USA, then face either Real Salt Lake or FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals on either October 29 or 30.
Next up in the Champions League will be a home match in the first leg of the quarterfinals in early March.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero 42.
Monterrey – Dario Carreno (Humberto Suazo) 3; Cesar Delgado 61.
Sounders FC – Zach Scott (caution) 58.
Monterrey – Luis Perez (caution) 41; Severo Meza (caution) 75; Humberto Suazo (caution) 82.
Sounders FC – Bryan Meredith, James Riley, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 67), Tyson Wahl, David Estrada (Lamar Neagle 79), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Roger Levesque, Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa (Mike Fucito 74).
Monterrey – Jonathan Orozco (Juan de Dios Ibarra 73), Severo Meza, Ricardo Osorio, Miguel Morales, Jose Basanta, Luis Perez, Cesar Delgado (Neri Cardozo 80), Sergio Perez, Dario Carreno, Sergio Santana, Humberto Suazo.