The Seattle Sounders dominated from the opening whistle, but for 89 minutes, that got them no goals and plenty of frustration.
Finally in the 90th minute, Seattle drew even on an Erik Friberg header before moving ahead on a Brad Evans penalty kick in stoppage time for a 2-1 CONCACAF Champions League victory over CD Olimpia on Wednesday before an announced crowd of 37,106 CenturyLink Field.
“I’m very proud of what we were able to do,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “With about 15 minutes to go, I was thinking to myself, ‘We do not deserve to lose this game. We have been the better team, and hopefully something will change. We need something to change and break our way.’ And it did.”
There was plenty of drama surrounding the PK, starting with who was going to take it. The Sounders have a list of assigned penalty-kick takers before every game, and Gonzalo Pineda’s name was atop this one.
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“I gave the ball to Gonzo because his name was up there, and then four of our players went over and said, ‘Brad you take it, Sigi wants you to take it,’” Evans said. “So I listen to the coach and I take it, and three points, and we advance.
“It’s not meant out of disrespect to Gonzo by any means. I listen to the coach. .... I’m sure (Pineda’s) mad, but I’ll reach out to him and we can come to the agreement that three points is the best overall outcome.”
The result moves Seattle to the top of CCL Group F at 1-0-1, followed by Vancouver (0-0-1) and Olimpia (0-1-0).
The visitors from Honduras moved ahead in the sixth minute, when Oscar Salas sent a long diagonal chip to the front of the Seattle goal, and forward Alberth Elis headed it past goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Seattle answered with chances — but shots by Aaron Kovar, Thomás and Jimmy Ockford all were handled by Olimpia goalkeeper Noel Vallarde, and another solid chance by Kovar banged off the bottom of the post.
In the second half, Lamar Neagle sent a header just off frame after a long pass from Pineda. In the 77th minute, Kovar hit the post again, this time with a free kick.
As the final whistle ticked ever closer, the Sounders’ fortunes changed with Friberg’s equalizer. Then deep into stoppage time, Dylan Remick was fouled in the penalty area, which led to Evans’ winner.
“Obviously, we left it for late,” Schmid said. “It would have been a lot easier if we had scored some goals earlier. I thought we were the better team throughout the match. We created some good chances. … I thought we put the pressure on them.”
Seattle outshot Olimpia 16-6 and held 70 percent of the possession. And it did so with a reserve-heavy lineup that included rookie Darwin Jones getting his first start up front and No. 2 goalkeeper Perkins in the back. Michael Azira, usually a defensive midfielder, started at right back. Rookie Jimmy Ockford started beside veteran Zach Scott in the central defense.
The Sounders will return to MLS play Saturday at Real Salt Lake. Their next CCL match is against Olimpia on Aug. 26 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Before the match, the Sounders announced that midfielder Marco Pappa had completed the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and has been cleared to rejoin the club.
Pappa has been out since last month, when he was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.
“We support him,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We welcome him back — hopefully his teammates do, too. What’s important is getting Marco right off the field, and if he does that, there will be plenty of time to get the football stuff right.”
Pappa is expected back at Sounders training Thursday.
SATURDAY: Seattle at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m., Ch. 13, 97.3-FM