SEATTLE – It’s a good thing history doesn’t care much about style points.
The Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent in CONCACAF Champions League play since the tournament took its current format in 2008, scoring three second-half goals and beating Tigres UANL 3-1 on Tuesday to book their trip to the semifinals.
Seattle netted on a pair of stunning strikes from DeAndre Yedlin (watch here) and Djimi Traoré (watch here) before getting the winner from Eddie Johnson, and how they managed it was almost as stunning as the goals themselves.
Facing a squad that can only charitably be called reserves, the Sounders surrendered the first goal before storming back to win the aggregate-goal series. They were given a huge assist when Manuel Viniegra was shown a second yellow card just before halftime, but that seemed a mere detail at the time with Seattle still needing three goals to advance.
Yedlin brought the crowd back to life with a stunning 54th-minute volley from about 27 yards out that deflected off a defender just enough to beat goalkeeper Jorge Díaz de León. Just six minutes later, Traoré did him one better by hitting a half-volley from about 30 yards that that hit off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in.
With the momentum running clearly in the Sounders' favor, the home side finally pulled ahead in the 75th minute when Johnson got free along the left wing. He held the ball long enough to force Díaz de León to commit and then beat him to the inside post from an extremely sharp angle.
From there, the Sounders held on with Tigres nearly pulling it out when Alan Pulido whistled a shot wide from about 10 yards in the 92nd minute.
Though they dominated the second half, the half was an entirely different story.
Tigres took advantage of some sloppy defending, grabbing the all-important road goal in the 23rd minute. Former US international Jonathan Bornstein got the counter started with a leading pass down the right wing before Alberto Acosta shouldered Yedlin off the ball and sent in a perfect cross that found Elías Hernández all alone at the back post for the finish.
The Mexican side continued to apply pressure and came close to adding another goal with a pair of chances in the 29th and 30th minutes. First it was Hernádez lacing a shot from about 20 yards out that Sounders 'keeper Michael Gspurning had to punch away. On the ensuing corner, Viniegra got the ball about 10 yards out, but his shot was saved by a diving Gspurning.
The Sounders were able to generate plenty of chances in the opening period, but their finishing was sorely lacking. Sammy Ochoa got a look at an open header in the 16th minute that he skipped wide.
Johnson had two even better chances, twice getting virtually unmarked chances from the left side. His first came off an Ochoa header, but his left-footed effort from about 14 yards out sailed wide. Just a minute later in the 36th minute, Johnson was sent on the left wing with only the goalkeeper to beat. But Díaz de León got just enough of his hand on the ball to send it wide and out for a corner.
The Sounders will now await the winner of the Houston Dynamo-Santos Laguna series in the semifinals, with Houston leading 1-0 on aggregate heading into Wednesday's second leg in Torreón, Mexico (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Djimi Traoré||Stood out in a forgettable first half for the Sounders backline, and throughout the match for that matter. His real contribution, though, came through his once-in-a-lifetime golazo to make it 2-1 on the night|
|2||DeAndre Yedlin||Tab Ramos, are you watching? The 19-year-old defender overcame a rough first half with an impeccable second period, capped by his first-ever pro goal|
|3||Osvaldo Alonso||As usual, did the dirty work to keep the Sounders in the game, winning and recovering ball after ball to keep Tigres from getting a sustained period of pressure after their goal.|