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CCL: Stumble in Panama puts Sounders in early hole

Alvaro Fernandez and Seattle lost to San Francisco 1-0.

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC

There’s still work to do in Seattle if the Sounders hope to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.

Despite keeping possession for much of the match, the Sounders dropped a 1-0 decision in Panama to San Francisco FC on Tuesday night, putting the club behind the eight ball coming into the return leg at CenturyLink Field Aug. 3.

"It's 1-0 at halftime,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said, referring to the team’s home leg in Seattle. “It's important for us to come back and win this thing at home and it's great preparation for the MLS playoffs. We have got to show our ability to come back and score some goals."

Seattle claimed a few chances against San Francisco, but not many. Pat Noonan’s header off the far post in the 85th minute was probably the best of them, but Schmid also praised Mike Fucito and Álvaro Fernández for their play off the bench.

Noonan called the 1-0 defeat “frustrating.”

“We played well defensively and we made a mistake and they made us pay for it,” Noonan said. “We had our chances. Fortunately for us, we are at halftime. We are very confident we are going to go in and get the result back in Seattle.”

Not including last week’s Manchester United friendly, Seattle had not played a competitive match since taking on Colorado on July 16. Schmid noted that Seattle’s usual training schedule had been thrown off.

"We have had a lot of days off,” Schmid said. “When you really look at it, after the Colorado game, we haven't had much of what I would call real, real training in the last eight days and I just think it's tough to maintain the rhythm.”

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller didn’t think rust had anything to do with the result, noting that Seattle had a strong training session on Saturday before flying out to Panama the next day. If anything, it was the 3,600 miles that taxed Seattle’s legs.

A snafu in the Houston airport didn’t help matters.

“Then we travel and get stuck in the Houston airport for an extra four hours, on the plane, off the plane,” Keller said. “It was a bit of a disaster. Those things happen as far as travel."

From Panama City, Seattle travel back to Houston, where they will train on Thursday in advance of Saturday evening’s league game against the Dynamo.

 Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS