Seattle tops CD Olimpia at CenturyLink Field, but tempers flare in the final minutes.
Sounders goalkeeper Troy Perkins watched helplessly from his goalmouth as CD Olimpia forward Rommel Quioto was stretchered off the field in the 89th minute, having milked a bit of contact for effect with his team up a goal and Seattle’s Champions League run in serious jeopardy.
Perkins watched as Quioto hopped off the stretcher as soon as it reached the sideline, watched as he answered the boos bouncing around CenturyLink Field with a thumbs up. And Perkins listened when those catcalls turned to a triumphant roar as Erik Friberg headed home the game-tying goal at the other end of the field.
“A little bit of justice done there,” Perkins called it.
The CONCACAF Champions League is both maddening and exhilarating, sometimes in the exact moment.
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And Wednesday’s match wasn’t even yet at peak CONCACAF — that came seven full minutes of stoppage time later, when Seattle captain Brad Evans buried a last-second penalty kick, jawed at Olimpia goalkeeper Noel Vallardes and kicked off a round of pushing and shoving that reignited at the final whistle.
Seattle scored once in the 90th minute and again in the 97th on Wednesday night as it came from behind to stun the Hondurans 2-1 at CenturyLink and assume pole position in the Champions League’s Group F.
The Sounders now have four points from two matches, three more than second-place Vancouver and pointless Olimpia.
A Sounders loss would have almost meant a must-win in the return game next Wednesday in Honduras. Instead, one win in its final two group games will likely send it through.
CD Olimpia forward Alberth Elis headed his team in front in the fifth minute of Wednesday night’s match, and the game got chippy even before it reached the half.
“It pisses you off when a player goes down and you don’t think he’s hurt … when they get off the field and two seconds later they’re back on,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “It’s one of those things that you have to deal with, especially playing teams from Central America.”
Seattle — which started just a single player, Lamar Neagle, who also started the 4-0 win against Orlando City last weekend — nearly waited too long. But Friberg made Olimpia pay just as the clock was about to hit 90 when he headed in Aaron Kovar’s flicked-on throw-in at the back post.
Evans had entered as an attacking substitute in the 73rd minute. Less than a week after making the transition from central defense to defensive midfielder, the captain lined up on the wing.
“It’s just what I expect from Brad,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “You guys are making (the position change) too big of a thing, to be very honest with you. I know Brad. I know how he feels inside. And there’s always going to be a little bit of frustration. But that doesn’t change the effort he puts in for the team.”
The Sounders pushed forward after Friberg’s goal, sensing a winner. With stoppage time nearly complete, Dylan Remick pounced on a loose touch on the edge of Seattle’s box and was tackled roughly to the ground.
Referee Kimball Ward whistled for a penalty kick, and designated Sounders penalty kick taker Gonzalo Pineda stepped to the spot before a scrum broke out in the box.
“And then a couple of players run over and say, ‘Sigi wants you to take it,’ ” Evans relayed.
The captain took it from there: “In the beginning I put the ball down and the keeper is standing there for a good three minutes,” Evans said. “At that point it becomes the referee’s responsibility to push the keeper back on his line so I can take the penalty kick. … More guys come crowd around, I put the ball down, (Vallardes) touches the ball once, so I retouch the ball. He comes back, I push him, and that’s when the melee starts.
“He’s talking trash. If I score a PK in 97th minute, he’s going to hear back.”
The CONCACAF Champions League is rarely boring. And courtesy their two late goals Wednesday night, the Sounders are in position to experience even more of it.