COUVA, Trinidad – Seattle Sounders FC came into Ato Boldon Stadium with an eye on three points to ease their path through the remaining two matches in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
After a long travel day to Trinidad on Tuesday, they got just what they needed by holding pressure on Caledonia throughout the match and emerging with a 3-1 victory to put them in firm control of group four with six points through two matches.
“Getting six points was important to us because now we’ve put ourselves in a position where we need to win just one of our last two games,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve got one game at home and we’ve always said winning games at home is the key … but now we know if we win one of our last two then we win the group. It was a position we wanted to be in at the end of today.”
The Sounders dominated possession throughout the first half, but a desperate Caledonia defense was able to block an early shot from Sammy Ochoa and two later efforts by Brad Evans and Marc Burch.
Finally in the 45th minute, Alex Caskey broke through and put the Sounders into the lead.
Sammy Ochoa played the ball to Zach Scott on the right side running up the box and Scott slid to knock a pass back to Caskey in front of the net and he knocked it into the net for the 1-0 lead going into halftime.
“The longer it goes zero-zero, the more dangerous it gets to give up a lead and then have to come back,” Caskey said. “Especially right before half it was important for us to go in with a lead.”
Caledonia had a golden opportunity to equalize to start the second half, but Cornelius Stewart pushed his shot just wide of the post in the 51st minutes and Seattle held on to their advantage.
In the 60th minute, the Sounders got out on the run and added to their lead. Pressing up the middle of the field, Fredy Montero left the ball for Ochoa at the top of the box and he lifted a shot over goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel and under the crossbar for his second goal of the tournament and a 2-0 Seattle lead.
Just like the first meeting on August 2, though, Caledonia pulled back on a penalty kick. Kareem Joseph converted his second penalty kick in as many matches against Seattle and the lead was narrowed to 2-1 in the 66th minute.
However, Montero continued his hot August streak when he quickly got the Sounders back out to a two-goal lead in the 69th minute. Caskey rolled the ball to Montero from the left side and he slid in to knock it past the goalkeeper for his eighth goal of the month and second of the tournament as Seattle took a 3-1 lead.
“It was really important because we were up 2-1 and to get the goal right back was just a dagger, I think,” Ochoa said. “Put them away and keep the game under our control and work from there.”
The Sounders held on the rest of the way and finished the match five points clear of both Caledonia, who is now eliminated although they have one match left to play, and Marathon from Honduras.
Seattle’s next match in the Champions League is on September 19 when they travel to Honduras to face Marathon. Sounders FC will continue MLS league play on Sunday in Frisco, Texas against FC Dallas.
Sounders FC – Alex Caskey (Zach Scott, Sammy Ochoa) 45; Sammy Ochoa (Fredy Montero) 60; Fredy Montero (Alex Caskey) 69.
Caledonia – Kareem Joseph (PK) 66.
Sounders FC – None.
Caledonia – Walter Moore (caution) 17; Densill Theobald (caution) 28; Jamal Gay (caution) 71; Radanfah Abu Bakr (caution) 87.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez (Cordell Cato 61), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey, Fredy Montero (Leo Gonzalez 74), Sammy Ochoa (Christian Tiffert 86).
Caledonia – Glenroy Samuel, Aubrey David, Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, Kareem Joseph, Walter Moore, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Stephan David, Densil Theobald, Kerlon Ferguson (Trevon Caesar 63), Cornelius Stewart (Conrod Smith 72), Jamal Gay (Abdallah Phillips 84).