A 1-0 loss is hardly something to be excited about, but the Seattle Sounders will surely take it.
Playing Mexico’s hottest team on the road in Monterrey, the Sounders hung tough throughout on Wednesday and will head back to Seattle for the return leg against Tigres UANL with a fighting chance to win their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
Tigres dominated the match, outshooting the visitors 18-3 and forcing Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to make six saves, most of the spectacular variety. Those weren’t turning into goals until Tigres finally broke through in the 74th minute.
That’s when Alberto Acosta chipped in a ball that Lucas Lobos received with no one around him on the back post. While the Sounders raised their hands in hope for an offside call, Gspurning was left all alone to deal with the situation. Although he managed to save the unmarked chance, Alan Pulido was there to clean up the rebound and head it into the back of the net.
Replays showed that an attacking player was in an offside position, but was not part of the play.
Rather than falling into a shell and settling for a one-goal loss, the Sounders pressed for the equalizer. They came inches away from getting it, too, when Mario Martínez found Lamar Neagle at the corner of the goal with a slick left-footed cross. Neagle’s shot was on target, but Tigres 'keeper Enrique Palos was able to make the save.
The Sounders weathered several early chances from Tigres as well.
Leo González may have made the play of the match just three minutes in when he cleared a ball off the line. Lobos found the ball all alone inside the penalty area, got Gspurning to commit and had an open goal ahead of him. But González was well positioned and kick the ball to safety.
That close call seemed to calm the Sounders a bit. Although they were content to mostly defend, they were able to keep Tigres from getting so close again.
The Sounders’ patience nearly paid off in the 57th minute when Martínez picked up an errant pass in Tigres’ end and sent Eddie Johnson on a breakaway. Johnson was able to beat the first defender, but he was unable to make solid contact with his left-footed shot that was right at Palos and was easily saved.
The second leg will be next Tuesday, March 12, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle at 10 pm ET.