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Mike Fiechtner

Santa Tecla 2, Sounders 1: Lodeiro's golazo not enough in Leg 1 defeat

It was sudden. It was unexpected. It was incredible.

Unfortunately, it was not enough.

"Our players played a good game, but our opponent was better," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said.

Nicolás Lodeiro gave the Sounders an early lead with perhaps his most special magic trick to date, but Santa Tecla scored two goals in the second half to win, 2-1, on Thursday evening in El Salvador. The Round of 16 contest, Seattle's first competitive fixture of 2018, was the first leg of the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. 

In the 15th minute, Lodeiro found himself free in space about 40 yards away from goal. He seized the opportunity and gently lobbed a shot that perfectly landed in the back of the net. The golazo sparked memories of Djimi Traore's 30-yard blast from 2013, which also came in CONCACAF Champions League play.

However, it was the only time the Rave Green managed to record a goal. In the second half, Santa Tecla's Gerson Mayen, a Los Angeles native, scored a brace for the decisive 2-1 scoreline. In the 67th minute, Mayen pounced on a scramble in front of the net, tucking in a shot inside the near post. In the 76th minute, Mayen doubled his tally with a converted penalty after defender Jordan McCrary was whistled for a challenge in the area. 

"We had seen videos of Santa Tecla," said Schmetzer. "We counteracted their abilities in the first half, but in the second, the home crowd gave them a plus and they responded well."

The second half of horrors worsened when forward Jordan Morris was forced to come off due to a right leg injury in the 83rd minute. Prior to the injury, he appeared fit and active for the duration of the match at both striker and on the left wing. He left the pitch on one foot with the assistance of the medical staff.

Now the Sounders must earn a positive result at home next Thursday, where they have lost just once since August 2016.

"On the return leg we must pressure them and make them feel like they are in our house," Schmetzer said.