The calendar changes, but Fredy Montero’s knack for scoring has yet to diminish.
Montero, a Sounders FC original, had a brace Tuesday night to help his side defeat Club Leon 3-0 in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Sounders forward Jordan Morris had the final goal in the 90th minute.
“It really was a team effort,” Morris said. “We were all on the same page defending and made it really difficult to break us down. They’re a good team and to limit them to not a ton of chances was a big goal of ours. We transitioned really well and, obviously, having a guy like Fredy in the box — we’re really lucky.”
The second of the two-legged series is March 17 at Estadio Leon in the central Mexico state of Guanajuato. Seattle’s three-goal lead in aggregate scoring is substantial but doesn’t guarantee they’ll advance.
“I already warned them that we’re not the favorites,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We must approach the game in the same fashion because the first 30 minutes, I know, they are going to come at us with everything that they have.”
Most in the crowd of 29,196 at Lumen Field gave Montero a standing ovation when he was subbed off in the 82nd minute. Montero, 34, is the Rave Green’s all-time scoring leader through all competitions with 70. The Colombian has eight in CONCACAF competitions.
“In games like this, you have to bring all of your experience, all of your talent and all of the energy that is there in order to win,” Montero said. “I’m really proud of (my teammates), we did a really good job.”
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan suffered a hard foul from forward Angel Mena in the box to set up Montero’s first score off a penalty kick. Leon crowded referee Bryan Lopez in protest, but broadcast replays showed a clear violation.
Leon continued to stall the eventual penalty. Montero was unfazed as he stood with his hands on his hips, waiting to take his shot. Leon keeper Rodolfo Cota guessed the wrong way, Montero knocking in the game’s first goal in the 31st minute.
Sounders defender Alex Roldan and Cristian played a little give-and-go on the right wing to get Cristian in position to send in a cross to Montero for the second goal. The latter swiped a right-footed shot past Cota in the 39th minute to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
Mena had Leon’s only on-frame shot attempt in the first half. The Ecuadorian’s shot in the 36th minute was saved by Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.
Leon coach Ariel Holan made three substitutions at halftime in efforts to improve the offensive attack. The visitors had a chance in the 57th minute and one off a free kick in the 74th minute that were saved by Frei.
Holan’s team had 69.3 percent of possession in the game but the coach felt they lacked patience. Leon was outshot 14-3, Frei picking up his third straight CCL shutout.
“It was a very hard match for us that leaves us many lessons,” Holan said as translated from Spanish. “At home we will play a different game. We must find the alternatives; we can’t lose patience again.”
Morris had multiple chances he couldn’t believe didn’t go in before getting a right-footed attempt in off a feed from Cristian. Cota had six saves in the match.
“I had a couple of chances before that that I wanted to finish,” Morris said. “I told Cristian just give me one more chance and I’ll bury it. He put a great ball in the box, and I’m thankful for that.”
Tuesday’s game was a rematch of the Leagues Cup title match last fall at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Cristian was instrumental in nearly defeating Leon in the single-elimination tournament that pits Liga MX against MLS clubs.
Roldan scored in the 48th minute of an eventual 3-2 loss.
The sides faced each other for a moment of silence before Tuesday’s kickoff after 26 people were injured during a brawl in the stands of a Queretaro-Atlas match last weekend. Leon’s Liga MX has faced critique.
Mexican Football Federation president Yon de Luisa and Liga MX president Mikel Arriola announced the punishments Tuesday. In addition to a monetary fine to the Queretaro owners, the club is banned from having fans at home matches for a year while one of the supporters’ group was levied a three-year ban.
The anticipated lineup changes occurred for Tuesday’s match. But the players called on weren’t the desired MLS Best XI duo of Raul Ruidiaz (hamstring) and Nico Lodeiro (adductor strain). Veteran forward Will Bruin also remains out due to a calf injury.
Seattle hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at Lumen. It’s uncertain the players will be available for selection.
Leon made two lineup changes from its match Friday.
“It’s a win,” said Schmetzer, whose team lost their past two MLS matches. “They were determined to put in a good performance. We got quality from Fredy. He continues to do a great job for this club.”
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