Marathón Beat Seattle 2-1; Take Three Points In CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage
Seattle Sounders take on Marathón in tonight's match in the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage. MLS supporters hope that Seattle can continue the league's perfect streak, but Seattle are the only MLS club starting the group stage in an away venue.
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Seattle were simply outplayed by the Honduran side. The Sounders kept losing balls in the middle, and Marathón kept collecting and running with them. While Seattle had plenty of chances, they just couldn’t put the ball in the net for an equalizer.
Marathón and Monterrey lead the group with three points each, while Samprissa and Seattle sit at the bottom with zero.
Sounders next host Monterrey on Wednesday, August 25th at Qwest Field.
In the heat of the match, I completely forgot this match is part of a series of six, in which each club plays the other three clubs in their group twice, home and away. The two teams with the most aggregate points are the ones that advance to the playoff rounds.
Away goals are a tiebreaker, so it is still essential that Seattle get another—both to pull off a point and to have a potential tiebreaking lead.
Roger Levesque takes credit for the goal, but it was the work of Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo that gave him the opportunity. Montero pushed the ball from the far right corner to Nkufo, who gave it just the slightest backheel nudge to send it on to Levesque, who was waiting just outside the six yard box. Levesque sent it into the net, leaving the Marathón keeper looking confused.
Seattle scored an extremely important away goal with that move.
The Seattle Sounders are in Honduras, preparing to take on Marathón in the CONCACAF Champions League. Seattle is riding a bit of a high at the moment, unbeaten in nine games through all competitions. But can the Sounders continue the MLS's perfect streak in Champions League play by leaving Honduras with a win?
The question mark occurs on the wing. With Sigi Schmid convinced that Fernandez is a winger (I disagree and think Nate Sturgis could use some time on the bench to contemplate why he can't kick the ball to the left side of the field) we might see Roger Levesque on the other wing tonight, given that Steve Zakuani is injured and Sanna Nyassi is sitting out a suspension due to yellow-card accumulation. I would love to see Miguel Montaño get the start, but I'm sure that Schmid is going with gritty veteran presence.
But will that gritty veteran presence be enough? Not if the team on the pitch resembles the one that took the field last Saturday. That team looked a bit worn, ragged around the edges. Marathón is a team that has won the last three league Aperturas while failing to win the Clausuras (remember, many Latin American leagues separate the year into two seasons). They don't win the Clausuras because they are focused on trying to win the CCL. Although Marathón has lost in the quarterfinals in the past two years, make no mistake: they're a quality side. And they don't lose at home, boasting a 6-0-0 record in the group stages over the past two years.
So will Seattle be able to come away with a point, much less three? This is a team that, at the break, were more or less eliminated from playoff contention--and have roared back into sixth place, finally showcasing their talents. The Sounders need to make sure their linkup play is working tonight. Montero and Fernandez have already formed a great partnership. What was missing last week was a lack of balls being fed to the Uruguayan. If Fernandez has the ball, sliding it in to Nkufo or Montero shouldn't be too much of a hardship. Speaking of Nkufo, he'll need to play further forward to allow Montero space to roam. The defense shouldn't be too much of an issue (knock on wood) as Parke and Patrick Ianni have gelled nicely in the back.
Sounders play tonight at 7pm PT on Fox Soccer Channel.