SEATTLE – Yosimar Arias’ perfectly placed free kick was enough to give visiting Herediano a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions Legue play.
The Costa Rican club earned its first three points of the group stage, while Seattle remain atop Group D with nine points despite the loss.
With Monterrey’s defeat of Comunicaciones earlier in the night, both teams moved into second place behind Seattle with six points, putting pressure on the Sounders in the final two matches. It’s conceivable that both teams could leapfrog Seattle in the final two match days. Seattle play Comunicaciones in Guatemala on Sept. 27 before finishing the group stage at home against Monterrey on Oct. 18.
With the victory, Herediano preserved their small chance of advancing under new coach Jafet Soto.
Seattle lost despite a late flurry of activity led by substitutes Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso and Sammy Ochoa. Herediano goalkeeper Daniel Cambronero finished the match with four saves, including a brilliant diving stop on Ochoa in the 89th minute to preserve the victory.
Herediano had the best chance in the early going, with striker Jorge Barbosa sliding the ball onto the post past an onrushing Kasey Keller. Nate Jaqua had a chance to open the scoring on the other end, but his left-footed shot from close range was deflected over the endline.
The visitors opened the scoring in in the 25th minute. After a Seattle foul, Herediano’s Arias executed a picture-perfect free kick from just under 25 yards. The right-footed effort traveled over the defensive wall and past Keller at his near post.
Forward Pat Noonan had a chance to match Arias’ strike in the 36th minute, but his free kick went over the cross bar by only a couple feet.
With the exception of Lamar Neagle, none of the front six in Seattle starting XI could be considered a regular starter, and as such Seattle had difficulty creating scoring opportunities. The halftime stats showed just one shot on goal for a Sounders team that has averaged 2.375 goals in their last 8 games across all competitions.
Herediano, meanwhile, boasted 54.1 percent of possession at the break.
In the 56th minute, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid inserted stars Montero and Alonso into the match. The moves injected some life into Seattle attack but didn’t lead to a goal.
In the 74th minute, August signing Ochoa saw his first action in a Sounders uniform, replacing Zach Scott.
In front of a crowd of 10,613, Cambronero showed his best late, diving to deny Neagle in the 82nd minute before his game-saving block on Ochoa.