SEATTLE – In their third time in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Sounders FC showed just how far they have come since they first played in the play-in games against Metapan of El Salvador back in 2010.
On Wednesday night, they capped a 4-0-0 finish in the group stage with a 3-1 win over Marathon of Honduras to seal the third seed in the quarterfinals, beginning in March.
Marcus Hahnemann made his return to Seattle and his first start for the Sounders FC with four saves while the Sounders got goals from Sammy Ochoa, Steve Zakuani and David Estrada in the victory.
“We’re happy to have gone through our group undefeated,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I’m very proud and pleased that we won the group and put us in the top four seeds.”
The Sounders outshot Marathon 10-3 in the first half and the halftime score was reflective of that, although the visitors from Honduras were able to put one on the board.
Ochoa continued his CONCACAF hot streak, netting his fourth goal in as many matches in the Champions League group stage in the 23rd minute to start scoring. Ochoa’s four goals is tied for second-most in this year’s tournament.
Mike Seamon played the ball up the right side to Mario Martinez and Martinez played a cross into the box where Estrada let it bounce through to Ochoa, who knocked a side-winding half-volley into the net.
“It was a good opportunity for him to get back out there and play,” Schmid said, noting that he was taken out of last week’s scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake for tactical reasons after Zach Scott’s first-half red card. “Having played in Mexico, for him to do well in this competition, I’m sure that’s something that he’s proud of.”
They added to their lead in the 27th minute when Zakuani took a great pass up the middle from Jeff Parke and cut around a defender in the box before blistering a shot past Jose Mendoza for the goal.
Marathon would pull one back in the 37th minute when Mauricio Sabillon lead Tulio Vega up the right side of the box, drawing Hahnemann off his line. Vega crossed to Michal Brown who took a touch to put it into the open net for the goal to cut Seattle’s lead in half at 2-1.
It was the first goal Seattle had given up in four CCL group stage matches from the run of play. All four previous goals came from the penalty spot.
Estrada extended Seattle’s lead in the second half when he fielded a cross from Martinez, but momentarily lost possession to his defender. He quickly regained control and poked it into the net for the goal and a 3-1 Sounders lead in the 76th minute.
“I told myself throughout the whole week that I was looking forward to this game and not just to score, but the things off the ball and everything I can do to help the team win,” Estrada said.
The Sounders held on to the final whistle to remain unscathed in the group stage.
The Sounders will learn their quarterfinal fate when the group stage concludes Thursday with the final matches in Group 5 and Group 8. Of the six teams that have qualified, they are currently third and will learn their opponent when the seeding is determined by those two matches.
On Sunday, they will finish the regular season with a meeting with the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
*Two groups still have one game remaining, both to be played on Thursday, October 25. In Group 5, the LA Galaxy visit Metapan, with the Galaxy already clinching advancement to the quarterfinal round. In Group 8, Xelaju visits Guadalajara, with the group winner still to be decided.
|1. Monterrey||4-0-0 (12 points)||+15 (15/0)|
|2. Santos||4-0-0 (12 points)||+12 (13/1)|
|3. Seattle||4-0-0 (12 points)||+7 (12/5)|
|4. Herediano||3-0-1 (10 points)||+3 (4/1)|
|5. Tigres||2-0-2 (8 points)||+9 (12/3)|
|6. Houston||2-0-2 (8 points)||+6 (9/3)|
|7. LA Galaxy*||2-0-1 (7 points)||+7 (9/2)|
|8. Xelaju*||2-0-1 (7 points)||+2 (6/4)|
Santos Laguna 1 – 0 Toronto FC
Seattle Sounders FC 3 – Marathon 1
Tigres UANL 5 – 0 Alajuelense 0
Remaining Schedule (October 25 at 7 p.m. PT)
Guadalajara vs. Xelaju
Metapan vs. LA Galaxy
Sounders FC – Sammy Ochoa (Mario Martinez) 23; Steve Zakuani (Jeff Parke) 27; David Estrada 76.
Marathon – Michel Brown (Tulio Vega, Mauricio Sabillon) 37.
Sounders FC – None.
Marathon – Quiarol Arzu (caution) 40; Michel Brown (caution) 83.
Sounders FC – Marcus Hahnemann, Mike Seamon, Jeff Parke (Marc Burch 46), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Alex Caskey 67), Steve Zakuani (Cordell Cato 78), David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa.
Marathon – Jose Mendoza, Luis Castro, Quiarol Arzu, Mauricio Sabillon (Wilmer Fuentes 79), David Meza, Reiniey Mayorquin, Mariano Acevedo (Alexander Aguilar 73), Mario Berrios, Cristhian Altamirano, Tulio Vega (Randy D
|6||Shots on goal||5|