The Seattle Sounders had hoped to lock up their spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals by winning Wednesday’s match against Marathón in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. With their 3-2 victory, that’s exactly what they did.
“It’s tremendous,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a goal we set for ourselves that we wanted to qualify tonight. We were able to accomplish that. I was really proud. We put a lot of players out there who aren’t regularly in our starting lineup, but I thought they came through and played very, very well.”
Although the Sounders’ starting lineup featured seven changes from Saturday’s MLS affair, they came out looking like the much better team and controlled possession for much of the first half. That paid off when Sammy Ochoa got his third Champions League goal of the campaign on a header from a Mario Martinez cross in the 11th minute.
Despite giving up the equalizing goal in the 35th minute on a Mario Berrios penalty, the reserves were at least able to keep it close until some of the starters entered the game. The first of them to join the fray was Osvaldo Alonso in the 61st minute. Just one minute later, the Sounders retook the lead on an Eddie Johnson goal from an Andy Rose pass.
Another Berrios penalty tied the score again, but the Sounders continued to show resiliency by getting the winner on a Brad Evans header in the 78th minute.
“It’s a good confidence-booster going into this weekend especially with this big game coming up,” Evans said, alluding to Saturday’s top-of-the-table showdown with the San Jose Earthquakes. “This win will help us in the long run, putting in the effort that we put in tonight. We got to rest some guys and guys got to stretch their legs tonight as well.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.