SEATTLE — Using a lineup of mostly reserves, the Seattle Sounders completed a perfect run in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage with a 3-1 win over Marathón on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.
Among the irregular starters for the Sounders was goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who had not made a competitive appearance since Jan. 30, 2011, when he was with Wolverhampton. The Seattle native made four saves, including one in the 66th minute that preserved what was a 2-1 lead at the time.
The Sounders guaranteed themselves no worse than a No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals, which will take place next March 5-7 and 12-14. If the standings don’t change on Thursday, Seattle would play the Houston Dynamo.
As he has made a habit of doing, it was Sammy Ochoa who got the Sounders on the scoreboard first. The big forward, who came into the contest with seven all-competition goals, got on the end of a Mario Martinez cross in the 23rd minute. Ochoa has now scored in all four group stage games and is the second-leading scorer in the 2012-13 CCL.
Just four minutes later, Zakuani made it 2-0. Showing off some of the speed he had been known for before his injury, Zakuani got behind the defense to run down a well weighted Jeff Parke through ball. After controlling it on the edge of the penalty area, Zakuani took a dribble, before cutting it back and watching the defender lose his feet. The midfielder then laced a shot inside the near post.
At that point, it looked like the Sounders may run away with it. They had a couple more good scoring chances, but Marathón weathered those and got back into the game with a 37th-minute goal.
Tulio Vega got a step on Parke and Hahnemann looked to be a little slow coming off his line. Vega was then able to send a cross to Mitchel Brown, who was totally unmarked at the back post. Vega tapped it in to make the score 2-1.
Marathón's best chance to tie the score came in the 66th minute. Brown was able to get a clean shot off a bouncing ball in the box. But Hahnemann was well positioned and was able to make the stop.
The Sounders put the game away in the 76th minute when Martinez sent in a cross to David Estrada. Although his first touch hit the defender, Estrada was able to recover the ball and put it past the goalkeeper. It was his first competitive goal since scoring against Chivas USA on May 26.