The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
TORREON, Mexico - Four second half goals were the difference as Santos Laguna advances past Sounders FC 7-3 on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Alvaro Fernandez scored the lone goal for Seattle, while Herculez Gomez and Christian Suarez each notched a brace in a 6-1 result at Estadio Corona at Territorio Santos Modelo in Torreon, Mexico.
Santos Laguna will play Toronto FC in the CCL semifinals.
After falling behind 2-nil in the first 10 minutes, Seattle responded in the 37th minute to even the aggregate score 3-3 before the half. Fredy Montero put an accurate cross from the left side to Fernandez at the far post who headed in the goal.
It was Fernandez third goal of the tournament, tied for the team-high with Montero. Montero also finished the tournament with a team-high four assists.
Santos Laguna scored two early first-half goals, the first coming in the eighth minute when Suarez bent a ball from 22 yards out through the defense and into the left corner of the net. Santos Laguna struck again less than two minutes later when Oribe Peralta got behind the Seattle defense on a run and put the ball past Michael Gspurning.
The first score of the second half came in the 49th minute when Suarez made a long run up the left side, then crossed the ball across the box to a wide open Gomez, who powered a shot into the back of the net. Gomez scored again in the 67th minute when Peralta found him in front of the net after an uncontested run up the right side. The brace gives the former A-League Sounder three goals in the two-game aggregate series.
Suarez completed his brace on an assist from Ivan Estrada in the 76th minute. Carlos Ochoa replaced Gomez in the 69th minute and added a score in the 81st minute.
Eddie Johnson came on for David Estrada in the 62nd minute and almost scored two minutes later. He received the ball in the box on the left side and shot to the near post, but Sanchez made the save. Johnson had to leave the game in the 81st minute with a hip flexor injury.
The match ends a strong run for Sounders FC in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, finishing the tournament 5-4-1. The quarterfinals were the furthest Sounders FC has advanced in CONCACAF Champions League.
“First of all, Santos was the better team today, but I don’t believe that we deserved this result tonight,” said new Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. “I don’t care about the result or anything after it’s over. What I care about and what the team cares about is Saturday and our opening game of the season…We have to keep our head up and work on Saturday.”
“I will think about the game and the goals,” Gspurning continued, “but I don’t think I can do that many things…If the game is like this you have to accept it…We will look forward to Saturday. Saturday is a new game. It’s a pity for us and for the fans because we wanted this so much and this result is not a good sign from us to the fans and the MLS, but this game is over and we have to look forward to Saturday.”
Sounders FC return home Saturday to kick off the 2012 MLS season against Toronto FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
In another quarterfinal series Toronto FC knocked out the LA Galaxy 2:1, 4:3 on aggregate.