It's gone final: Marathon 2, Sounders 1.
The result puts Marathon and Monterrey atop Group C with three points after one game; Seattle and Saprissa have zero.
Seattle had several good chances down the stretch, but a Michael Seamon header hit the crossbar, a Jaqua shot from close range went over the bar, a turning Montero touch toward an open net trickled wide, and an Osvaldo Alonso strike in stoppage time soared over the bar.
Here's some early reaction from coach Sigi Schmid:
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Overview: “We gave up two goals. The penalty I thought was a hard call but it is what it is. In the second half I thought we pretty much had control of the game, dominated more of it, had four or five good chances in the second half. But obviously didn’t score, hit the post a couple of times. So we are disappointed that we didn’t come out with a point.”
On Levesque's goal: “[Blaise] Nkufo got a touch on the ball that Montero knocked across. It was a great goal. Roger [Levesque] had another chance to score and change the course of the game. We need to do a better job when we are up by one.”
On moving forward from this match: “We will take a look at what we did well and what we didn’t do well. Their side obviously did their job.”
On playing better from behind: “In the first half, even when we go the goal in the first 20 minutes, we weren’t doing well. We weren’t focused. But I thought in the second half we made some good adjustments and I thought were able to sustain some pressure. The surface slowed the ball down a little bit for us. Our forwards dropped off a little too much. That was definitely an issue for us.”
On the team’s effort: “I think our effort in the game, we didn’t do well in the outset with [Carlos] Palacios on the one side and [Randy] Diamond on the other side. I think we were disjointed offensively. The last 20 minutes, 25 minutes of the game I thought we had very good energy. In the beginning of the game we didn’t have good energy and we didn’t see an awful lot of the ball. If you want to see the ball a lot you need to play hard. We need to be better next time.”
Other Sounders' reaction:
KASEY KELLER:“We score goals and we are fine. When we don’t, people beat us. It’s frustrating. You figure, three points is three points. You get three at home, you get a couple draws. It’s just disappointing. We thought we had changed it already but our energy in the first 20 minutes was a bit more selective. We got get more pressure on them. We all learn from experiences. It’s a long trip. It’s hot, humid, we are on a very slow pitch and we just couldn’t figure it out. We have got five more games left in this competition and there’s nothing to fear playing these teams. We can line up with these teams quite comfortably.”
ROGER LEVESQUE On his goal: “Montero came down the right side and got the ball across. Blaise dropped the ball off ... and I was able to get the ball into the back post.”
Seattle returns to Champions League action at 7 p.m. Wednesday, when Monterrey visits Qwest Field. (Plenty of tickets remain.)
Marathon comes to Qwest Field on Sept. 29.
Here are the game stats:
SEA - Roger Levesque (Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero) 17MAR - Orvin Paz (Randy Diamond) 27MAR - Nicolas Cardozo (penalty kick) 45+
CD Marathón - Shane Orio, Astor Henriquez, Adolfo Machado, Erick Norales, Nicolas Cardozo, Hector Amarilla (Rony Flores 45), Randy Diamond (Carlos Will Mejia 69), Orvin Paz, Carlos Palacios, Milton Palacios (Luis Santamaria 77), Mario Berrios.
Substitutes Not Used:Nahun Avila, Fernando Castillo, Mario Cesar Rodriguez, Orlin Vallecillo.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10; SHOTS ON GOAL: 6; FOULS: 16; OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 6.
Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Michael Seamon 69), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Roger Levesque (David Estrada 87), Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua 64), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Ianni, Terry Boss, Tyson Wahl, Mike Fucito.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 17; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4.
Misconduct Summary:SEA - Tyrone Marshall 43'MAR - Mario Berrios 49'SEA - Leo Gonzalez 62' Referee: Juan Carlos GuerraReferee's Assistants: Hermenerito Leal; Ariel Mendez4th Official: Jose Molina
Time of Game: 1:50
68th minute: Seamon in for Fernandez.
64th minute:Jaqua in for Nkufo.
44th minute: A hustling Marathon player worked his way in front of a late Tyrone Marshall clearance in the box, drawing contact and ultimately a penalty kick. Then Claudio Cardozo converted to give Marathon a 2-1 lead into the half.
27th minute:Marathon continued to dominate play even after falling behind. So it was no surprise when the equalizer came. Marathon played a long ball down the left side, then touched the ball back to the top of the box. The scorer made one touch to get some space around Osvaldo Alonso, and then fired low and left past Keller. 1-1.
16th minute: Just as Marathon seemed to be taking control, the Sounders take the lead, 1-0.
Montero carried the ball down the right side, seemed to lose the ball to a Marathon defender, but then took it back, crossed back to Nkufo who half-dummied, half-back-heeled it on to Roger Levesque, who calmly beat the keeper wide.
Kickoff: The game has begun before an apparently tiny crowd. Sounders in electricity yellow/yellow; and Marathon's Green Monsters in green/green.
Lineup: Interesting Sounders lineup: GK Keller, D Riley, Parke, Marshall, Gonzalez; M Fernandez, Alonso, Sturgis, Montero; F Levesque, Nkufo.
Pregame: Sounders begin CONCACAF Champions League group play at Marathon of Honduras at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on Fox Soccer Channel.
I'm opening this post for pregame, ingame and postgame updates and comments. (And you guys got off to a great start with the post below.)