On a plush, rain-soaked grass field at Estadio Olimpico de Universitario, Nico Lodeiro executed what he does best. The Sounders captain nailed a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time to equalize Pumas UNAM for a 2-2 draw in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final in Mexico City on Wednesday.

The series moves to Lumen Field on May 4 where more than 50,000 people are expected to attend to witness history. Neither Pumas nor Seattle has won a CCL title. But Pumas would be in a line of 13 consecutive CCL wins for Liga MX clubs. No MLS team has won this iteration of the regional tournament and the Sounders have yet to win an international trophy.

“It might take me until we’re halfway back home to really understand what happened in the game,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It certainly was an interesting game.”

Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan was clipped by a defender in the corner of the penalty box during second-half stoppage time, but referee Ivan Arcides Barton Cisneros didn’t see the foul. Roldan screamed and writhed in pain loud and dramatically enough for VAR to spot him, calling Barton to review the play.

Once the call was made, Lodeiro knew what to do.

“I have to be with peace of mind and confidence that I’m going to be able to deliver,” Lodeiro said of his approach. “That’s what the team is expecting and that’s what we are preparing ourselves to do all the time. Having that confidence that we’re going to be able to execute well is what helps us when playing and kicking penalty kicks.”

Pumas forward Juan Dinenno was the player putting on a show early before an electric 45,000 people in attendance. The Argentine forward challenged Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade to a cross, winning the ball to flick a header past keeper Stefan Frei.


The goal in the 48th minute gave Pumas a 2-0 lead.

“The goal in the second half was something we knew that was their strength,” Schmetzer said. “So that was a little disappointing for us to go down 2-0. But what I always appreciate about our team is that they never quit. We never stop trying.”

The effort was evident in Seattle being able to work Pumas into costly infractions. The opening goal was off a Lodeiro penalty kick in the 77th minute. Raul Ruidiaz worked his defender into a handball in the box to concede the penalty.

Seattle leads the tournament in team goals with 15. One Wednesday, however, the attempts in the run of play were off target or weak shots, Pumas keeper Alfredo Talavera seemingly showing his frustration at conceding the penalties by getting in Lodeiro’s face after the second score.

Talavera and Frei had two saves each in the match.

“It’s what happens when you’re playing a final,” Lodeiro said of the scrums. “They’re defending their jersey and their team. Once that’s over, it’s over and nothing happened.”

Dinenno was questionable to play due to a muscular injury. Schmetzer said before the match his side was preparing for all scenarios, including for Dinenno to play. Wednesday’s brace gives the striker nine goals to lead the tournament.


Yeimar and center back Xavier Arreaga squeezed Dinenno on a play in the box that looked to be incidental contact in the 35th minute Barton showed Yeimar a yellow card, however, awarding Pumas a penalty kick.

Frei was in position to make the save. But review of the play showed Frei was off his line before the attempt. With a second chance, Dinenno converted the right-footed shot for a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute.

Seattle created multiple chances for their own goal in the first half. The most daring was a free kick in the 43rd minute. Lodeiro was close enough to fire an attempt at Talavera that the Pumas keeper deflected.

In first-half stoppage time, Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnak played a cross to Ruidiaz, which the striker headed down to a waiting Joao Paulo in the box. But the Brazilian’s close-range attempt sailed over the crossbar, sending the Sounders into halftime down 1-0.

Pumas subbed off defender Alan Mozo in first-half stoppage time due to an apparent leg injury after colliding with Arreaga. The club was already without defender Arturo Ortiz due to a one-game suspension.

Yet, the team showed quality depth along the backline to contain the Sounders within the run of play.


Yeimar started for the first time in seven matches due to an ankle sprain. His availability in the opening lineup was the first time Schmetzer had all of his first-choice starters.

Pumas won an early free kick just outside the box to start testing Seattle’s defense, but the first scoring threat was in the 21st minute. Frei easily caught Efrain Velarde’s header from inside the box. In the 26th minute, Frei was able to stretch his right arm out enough to tap Rogerio’s shot off course.

Away goals don’t count as a tiebreaker for the CCL final as they did in the previous three rounds. If after regulation of the second leg at Lumen the sides are equal in aggregate scoring, there will be two 15-minute periods. If still level, the winner will be decided via penalty shootout.

“I don’t think we were at our best,” Schmetzer said of Wednesday’s match. “It was a hard game. The team surrounding their captain at the end was a positive for me because I know what was going on, what they were trying to do to Nico and we had to stay composed. … we just need to stay calm and play the game.”