It was not the prettiest or most relaxing performance the Sounders have put together, but in the end it was just enough; an 88th minute goal from Osvaldo Alonso leveled the terms and clinched qualification to the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.Comunicaciones looked an entirely different side than the one that was defeated 4-1 in Seattle, while the Sounders looked tired and more than a little sloppy in some very difficult conditions, but in the end the visitors did just enough to become the first team through to the knockout stage of the 2011/12 CCL.
The Sounders opted to play the offside trap early on in the game to fairly disastrous (though not nearly as bad as they could have been) results; Tránsito Montepeque broke the trap perfectly and chipped over Kasey Keller to give the Guatemalan side a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute. The Sounders would control possession for much of the rest of the half with Comunicaciones mounting dangerous counter attacks every so often, but the scoreline would stay stagnant until Alonso nabbed his first in the 45th minute to level terms before the break.
Seattle began the second half looking far better and making some progress in breaking down the Comunicaciones defense but it was the home side that grabbed the first goal after the break against the run of play. Las Cremas won a corner in the 64th minute and Kasey Keller made a rare mistake; the Sounders keeper attempted to parry the corner away but instead the ball went directly into the ground and into the path of Rafael Morales who drilled the ball home just out of the reach of Lamar Neagle on the line. From there the Sounders would continue to press but as time ticked away and Comunicaciones pulled more and more players deeper into defense things began to look increasingly dire for Seattle. And then, in an eerily similar circumstance to the first equalizer, Juan Paredes made a decent save but Las Cremas' defense was unable to clear and the ball fell to Alonso who volleyed the ball emphatically into the net. It was hang on time from then on out but Comunicaciones were unable to create another real chance and with the final whistle the Sounders were through to the CCL knockout stage for the first time in their history.
Though the Sounders are through, there's still something on the line in their October 18th matchup against Monterrey at CenturyLink Field; the winner of that match will win the group and while the bragging rights would be nice the real prize is a more favorable matchup in the quarterfinals. Still, much of the pressure is off now for Seattle; the main thing is that they've sewn up a spot in the quarterfinals and can turn their focus towards domestic play. The Sounders haven't always made things easy on themselves this season, but more often than not they've done what they had to do. Tonight is not a game that will go down in the club's history as one of their best performances, but in taking the next step towards becoming a regional power the result will go down as one of the club's most important.