The Seattle Sounders were the far better side on the balance of play, but their inability to consistently pressure the opposition and finish the chances they were able to create was their undoing and they'll now have a far tougher task ahead of them come next Wednesday when the two sides face off at CenturyLink in the return leg. The Sounders looked the far greater threat to score for the majority of the evening but the closest they would come was a header off the bar by Pat Noonan just before stoppage time. San Francisco's goal came after a very soft penalty was conceded by Jeff Parke just over half an hour in, and though the awarding of the spot kick was questionable the Sounders put themselves into a bad position thanks to some terrible defending which was far from an isolated incident on the day.
The Sounders are now in a difficult position headed into the second leg; because they were unable to pick up an away goal they will be forced to win in a more convincing fashion at home than their performance this evening might indicate is likely. Still, this was as bad as Seattle has looked all season-including their run of poor results earlier in the year-and there's little reason to believe they'll put up a repeat performance in the return match. Despite San Francisco's ability to grind out the win, they showed nothing to indicate that they should be expected to keep things on level terms in Seattle and indeed the lack of threat presented by their open-play attack makes a clean sheet seem an easily achievable result.
The Sounders did themselves no favors this evening; San Francisco was clearly an inferior side and lucky to emerge from the clash victorious. The Sounders should still be favorites to advance to the group stage, and by a healthy margin. That said, their performance in this game was worrisome. Seattle seemed out of whack all evening, unable to connect on passes to put themselves into dangerous positions or to minimize costly organizational mistakes at the back. With a trip to Houston on tap for the weekend, Seattle have a chance to get themselves back into the swing of things before the second leg. But for the time being, the Sounders air of invincibility seems to have faded. And coming as it did against an inferior opponent, that's worrisome.