Herculez Gomez scored twice as Santos Laguna demolished the Seattle Sounders 6-1 in the second leg of their quarterfinal in Torreón, Mexico, on Wednesday, easily advancing to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League 7-3 on aggregate.
Two goals in less than two minutes sprang los Guerreros into the lead early in the deciding leg of the series. Christian Suárez and Oribe Peralta struck within the first 10 minutes to stake the Mexicans to a 3-2 aggregate league, but Álvaro Fernández leveled matters for Seattle in the 37th minute before Gomez’s goals put the series out of reach.
Seattle had won the first leg 2-1 in Seattle but appeared to struggle in the 90-degree weather in the Estadio Corona.
The MLS side went with the same starting lineup they used a week ago, with David Estrada once again starting alongside Fredy Montero in attack. Seattle threatened to take the lead early, forcing a double save from Oswaldo Sánchez in the eighth minute off headers from Fernández and Brad Evans.
On the other end, Santos did not waste their chances. The first real attempt on goal beat Michael Gspurning at the near post, a strong drive of the foot of Suárez. Less than a minute later, Peralta doubled the lead with an excellent two-touch finish under pressure from Seattle’s Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Peralta’s goal, his fifth in the tournament, put Seattle down 3-2 on aggregate.
Sigi Schmid’s team managed to regroup, doing a better job keeping possession while the home side continued to press. Searching for the away goal that would force an overtime period, Seattle struck nine minutes before halftime. Montero lofted in a ball from the left wing, finding Fernández unmarked at the back post. The Sounders had a lot of luck exploiting Santos in the air from set pieces and crosses.
The goal set the stage for Gomez’s second-half heroics. Santos secured the winning goal on an expert counterattack, with Gomez providing the final touch after a good cross from the left from Suárez.
Still in the match, Seattle countered with the inclusion of former US International Eddie Johnson in the 62nd minute. He made an immediate impact, forcing a save from Sánchez in the 64th.
But Gomez put the game out of reach, scoring his second four minutes later to push Santos’ lead to 4-1. The US World Cup veteran was stretchered off the field immediately after scoring, appearing to injure his leg on the play after Seattle defender Adam Johansson shoved him to the ground.
Suárez then scored his second and substitute Carlos Ochoa added another for the final margin.
Seattle open their MLS slate this weekend, hosting Toronto FC on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field. Santos will face the winner of the LA Galaxy-Toronto FC tie in the semifinals of the CCL.