COUVA, TRINIDAD – Sounders FC took a commanding lead in Group 4 of CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday with a 3-1 win at Caledonia AIA.
Seattle climbed to 2-0-0, Caledonia fell to 0-2-1 and idle Marathon remains 0-0-1 at this stage of their home-and-away round robin. Seattle can clinch the top spot with a win in either of its remaining group-stage matches: Sept. 19 at Marathon (Honduras) or Oct. 24, when Marathon visits CenturyLink Field.
“We always said winning games at home was the key, and getting some points on the road,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Now we know that if we win one of our last two, we win the group. It was the position we wanted to be in at the end of the day.”
Seattle jumped ahead just seconds before halftime, when Zach Scott beat a defender to the ball and knocked a low cross back in front of the goal. Alex Caskey sent it inside the far post for his first goal in CONCACAF competition.
“I think we came out a little bit slow, actually; kind of adapting to the long trip and the new atmosphere,” Caskey said. “It was important to get that first goal at the end of the half, and in the second half we settled down a little bit and started playing better soccer.”
Seattle doubled its lead in the 60th minute, when Fredy Montero slipped a pass to Sammy Ochoa at the top of the penalty area. Ochoa then knocked the ball into the top left corner, just below the crossbar.
“I was trying to hit it on the ground, but it was a little higher,” Ochoa said. “It was a good goal and a good play.”
Caledonia struck back in the 66th minute, after Scott was called for a foul in the penalty area. Kareem Joseph converted the penalty kick, just as he had in Caledonia’s Aug. 2 visit to Seattle, also a 3-1 loss.
The Sounders duplicated that score in the 69th minute when Caskey sent a cross into the box and Montero knocked it in.
“They were very timely goals,” Schmid said. “Caskey’s goal right before halftime was a very important goal. … (Ochoa’s goal) was well-taken. He got us up. And then Fredy’s goal was timely because it came right after the PK.”
Montero has now scored in four straight games and has eight goals over his last seven matches across all competition.
The Sounders also are putting up some impressive offensive numbers. Seattle ran its record to 8-1-2 over its last 11 matches while outscoring its opponents 30-12. That Sounders run also includes nine multigoal games.
Newly acquired midfielder Mario Martinez got his first start with the Sounders on Thursday. Cordell Cato, a native of Trinidad, came on in the 61st minute.
“I think we’re there where we need to be,” Schmid said. “I think we’re competitive and we’re in position to make a move in league, and obviously in a position to advance here.”
The Sounders return to MLS play Sunday at FC Dallas.email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt