The Seattle Sounders struck first but conceded twice in the second half, eventually falling 2-1 in the first leg of their Round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League series against Salvadoran side Santa Tecla at Estadio Las Delicias Stadium on Thursday.
Star midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro scored the first-half opener for the Sounders after he chipped the goalkeeper with a long-distance wonder-goal from 40 yards out. But Santa Tecla midfielder Gerson Mayen cashed home a point-blank finish and a penalty kick in a 10-minute span in the second half, allowing the hosts to take a 2-1 aggregate lead into the second leg of the series at CenturyLink Field on March 1.
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 15th minute after forward Jordan Morris put in a pass that a Santa Tecla defender cleared right into Lodeiro’s path. The Uruguayan midfielder proceeded to loft an absolutely pinpoint strike over the outstretched arm of Santa Tecla goalkeeper Joel Almeida, giving the Sounders the 1-0 lead and a massive road goal.
Mayen would find the equalizer for the hosts in the 67th, however, after a cross popped loose in the Seattle penalty box, inciting a mad scramble in front of goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Mayen would eventually tap home the finish to bring the contest level at 1-1. Mayen got his second of the day in the 76th after Sounders defender Jordan McCrary was whistled for a foul in his own penalty box, giving him the penalty-kick game-winner.
LODEIRO COMES UP BIG
They don’t get much sweeter than Lodeiro’s opener, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the highlights of the tournament. It carried some extra weight as well, due to the fact that CCL employs the away-goals tie-breaker if the aggregate total ends in a draw. In case you forgot over the offseason why Lodeiro is still one of the league’s preeminent playmakers, he gave you a nice little reminder on Thursday.
Thursday’s match was always going to be a tough test in a hostile, CONCACAF road environment with regular starters Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Ozzie Alonso, Clint Dempsey and Víctor Rodríguez all not making the trip for injury or rest purposes. The meant a bit of a mix-and-matched starting XI, but one that by and large held its own against an energetic Santa Tecla side on its home field.
MORRIS SUBS OFF
Perhaps the biggest storyline to keep tabs on ahead of Leg 2 will be the status of Morris, who subbed off late in the second half with an apparent leg injury. The 23-year-old had just seemed to be rounding back to full strength and looked primed for a big year in 2018, so, it goes without saying that his status is one to monitor ahead of Seattle’s next leg in CCL and their MLS season campaign.