The Sounders FC played the San Francisco FC in their final of two matches for the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round. On July 26th, the Sounders played on their opponents’ home turf in Panama, where they lost 1-0. The series takes into account the aggregate score from the combined games, so Seattle entered CenturyLink Field slightly defeated yet determined to send a message.
The message was loud and clear: Seattle Sounders FC are red hot at home and continue to display this streak week in and week out, unless of course they are playing Manchester United. Seattle won the match in regulation time (1-0 on the single game, 1-1 on the series) thanks to a marvelous goal from Alvaro Fernandez, but due to the nature of the aggregate scores between the two games, Wednesday’s match was propelled into overtime. Nate Jaqua put Seattle up by one goal (2-0 for the match, 2-1 on the series) in the 99th, while the Rave Green defense stunted San Francisco’s strikers and kept them off the score board. Seattle advances to the group stage of the tournament, which is always an accomplishment for MLS clubs.
Seattle dominated the game, unleashing roughly four times the amount of shots as San Francisco. Seattle set a personal record for most shots fired. Leo Gonzalez, Seattle’s left defender, was all over the pitch, breaking up plays and participating in multiple offensive attacks. The usual stars for Seattle, Montero, Rosales, and Fernandez, were brilliant, but I would not be surprised if Gonzalez becomes a more key player for Seattle. He has the height, speed, and vision to make great plays and his performance on Wednesday will hopefully carry into future competition.
Miguel Torres, the SF keeper, had eleven saves on the night, while Kasey Keller’s earned five saves. Keller had two crucial saves, the first in just the 12th minute as the veteran knocked a shot away from the open far post. The other sealed the victory as Keller made a nice save in the 109th minute, pushing his club deeper in this prestigious tournament.
The play was aggressive, manipulative, and strategic. Six yellow cards were issued due to the brutality and hastiness of the players. Several SF players were “injured” and had to be hauled away on stretchers. The crowd was unhappy with the referee’s decisions, and they let him know repeatedly.
While a victory and advancement in the tournament is great news for Sounders FC fans, Jaqua’s contributions are met with mixed feelings. He has been a disappointing player for several games now. He cannot control passes, misses open goal chances, and his passes are shabby. At times, it is as if there is a college player on the pitch trying to keep up with MLS players. Jaqua’s goal was much needed for the team, but I for one am unhappy; the last thing I wanted was a reason to like Jaqua.
San Francisco FC Starting XI: Miguel Torres, Rolando Algadona, Martin Gomez, Felipe Olivardia, Edgardo Panezo, Manuel Torres, Eybir Bonaga, Amir Waite, Roberto Chen, Roberto Brown, Johan de Avila
Seattle Sounders FC Starting XI: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez Pat Noonan, Fredy Montero