Seattle becomes just the second MLS team to ever win in Mexico.
MONTERREY, Mexico — One year after blowing a chance at history, Sounders FC had another shot at an illustrious win in Mexico.
This time, behind a first-half goal from Alvaro Fernandez, Seattle grabbed an early lead against CF Monterrey and bunkered down defensively, ultimately escaping with a stunning 1-0 win Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
The improbable triumph marked only the second time an MLS team has won in Mexico (2-21-3).
“It’s tremendous,” said midfielder Brad Evans. “It’s a great win for us. It’s one that will go in the history for our club. We are now the second team to win in Mexico, so for us it’s special.”
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The Sounders held a two-goal lead against Monterrey in 2010, but a late meltdown ruined what would have been the league’s breakthrough win in Mexico. FC Dallas ended MLS’ winless streak last week beating UNAM Pumas 1-0.
“The difference for us (this year) was that we have grown up a little bit as a team,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “We are more mature now. With the experience we had last year, we know what to expect and we didn’t make silly mistakes because we have grown up a little bit.”
Seattle (2-0) leads Group D and strongly boosted its chances of qualifying for the knockout stage. The reigning CCL champion, Monterrey (1-1) hadn’t lost in its previous 13 games in the international competition.
Nicknamed the Rayados, the hosts threw everyone into the attack in pursuit of a tying goal in the second half, but the Sounders’ defense and goalkeeper Terry Boss stood strong.
The most nervous moment came in the 66th minute, when Boss mishandled a back pass from a teammate and was dispossessed by Monterrey’s star forward, Aldo De Nigris. The Mexican international nearly had an open chance on goal, but was disrupted by Boss, and then a shot in front of the goal by Chilean forward Humberto Suazo went wide.
The pressure never stopped as Sounders FC had to defend a handful of dangerous free kicks in stoppage time up to the final whistle. Monterrey finished with a 17-7 advantage in shots and a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
“That will be the best team we play all year, easily,” said Evans. “Heads above everybody else.”
Seattle, winner of three straight CCL games, silenced the home crowd at Estadio Tecnologico in the 38th minute with a sublime counterattacking goal.
Moments after narrowly escaping danger on the defensive end, the Sounders quickly worked the ball down the field. The sequence culminated with a picture-perfect pass from forward Pat Noonan to Fernandez, who muscled off a challenge in the penalty box and fired a shot past goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.
“His first touch was great,” Noonan said of Fernandez. “That enabled him to get that shot off and he finished it very well.”
• The Sounders earned the memorable win with a lineup mix of starters and reserves. Regular starters in goalkeeper Kasey Keller, forward Fredy Montero and midfielder Mauro Rosales all got the day off.
“Obviously we left some very important players on our team at home because of the amount of games that we play,” said Schmid. “So to win with the team we had we are very, very pleased.”
• Sounders FC next plays Columbus in an MLS game at 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field. Seattle then hosts FC Dallas in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal on Aug. 30 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, capping a run of six games over 18 days.
• Seattle rookie Servando Carrasco, a Tijuana native, started in his first competitive game in Mexico. The midfielder has dual citizenship.
• Midfielder Amadou Sanyang, who was signed by Sounders FC last month, made his first appearance in the 84th minute.
• Lamar Neagle, a Federal Way native, was suspended for the match after the Seattle midfielder earned a red card in the last CCL game, a 4-1 win against Comunicaciones of Guatemala.
|Seattle||1 0 — 1|
|Monterrey, Mexico||0 0 — 0|
First half — 1, Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan), 38th minute. Second half — None. Shots — Monterrey 17, Seattle 7. Yellow cards — Nate Jaqua 48′. Shots on goal — Monterrey 4, Seattle 2. Corner kicks — Monterrey 7, Seattle 1. Offsides — Seattle 6, Monterrey 1. Saves — Seattle 4, Monterrey 1. Fouls — Seattle 11, Monterrey 9. Referee — Elmar Rodas. Referee’s assistants — Cesar Ruano; Marco Diaz. 4th official — Oscar Reyna. A — N/A.
Sounders FC — Terry Boss; James Riley, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl; Roger Levesque (Amadou Sanyang 84′), Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez (Leo Gonzalez 76′); Nate Jaqua (Osvaldo Alonso 65′), Pat Noonan. Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Taylor Graham, Erik Friberg, Mike Fucito.
Monterrey — Jonathan Orozco; Severo Meza (Ricardo Osorio 83′), Darvin Chavez, Miguel Morales (Walter Ayovi 62′), Luis Perez; Aldo De Nigris, Jesus Zavala, Neri Cardozo, Hiram Mier; Jesus Corona (Dario Carreno 73′), Humberto Suazo. Substitutes not used: Juan De Dios Ibarra, Oscar Garcia, Eduardo Guevara, Marcelo Cazaubon.