Sounders FC played game tonight that was meaningless to them in the CONCACAF Champions League group standings.
However, coach Sigi Schmid pointed out in advance that the game wouldn’t be meaningless to the players – most of whom would be reserves eager to prove themselves worthy of more playing time.
Stepping up most convincingly was second-year forward Michael Fucito, who scored both goals in Seattle’s 2-0 win over Marathon of Honduras.
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And while the result did little for the Sounders (1-4), who went into the game knowing they were mathematically unable to advance, it meant much to Marathon (2-3), which stands just one point behind Saprissa in the race for one of the two Group C spots that will advance to the knockout rounds.
Despite that incentive, Marathon opened cautiously. And the Sounders made the visitors pay in the 21st minute, when defender Adolfo Machado misplayed a ball at the top of the penalty area. Fucito swiped it, made one touch into the box, and then beat goalkeeper Orlin Vallencillo.
Fucito stuck next in the 68th minute, this one on a free kick from a few yards atop the penalty area. Fucito sent the ball into the top left corner, with Vallencillo hardly even turning his head to watch the net snap behind him.
However, soon after Fucito left the pitch with what was later diagnosed as a left ankle sprain.
The Sounders return to MLS play Saturday, when Toronto FC visits Qwest Field. They will conclude CONCACAF Champions League play Oct. 19, when Saprissa visits.
SEA -- Michael Fucito (unassisted) 21
SEA -- Michael Fucito (unassisted) 68
Marathon -- Orlin Vallencillo, Astor Henriquez, Mariano Acevedo, Erick Norales, Milton Palacios (Rony Flores 72), Mario Berrios, Adolfo Machado, Carlos Palacios, Elder Valladares, Hector Amarilla (Randy Diamond 73), Carlos Mejia.
Substitutes Not Used: Shane Orio, Luis Crisanto, Reiniery Mayorquin, Orvin Paz, Mario Rodriguez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Carlos Mejia 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Erick Norales 1, Mario Berrios 1); FOULS: 15 (Carlos Palacios 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Mario Berrios 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Mario Berrios 4); SAVES: 5 (Orlin Vallencillo 5)
Seattle Sounders -- Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham, Tyson Wahl, David Estrada, Mike Seamon, Alvaro Fernandez (Peter Vagenas 62), Miguel Montano (Leo Gonzalez 83), Michael Fucito (Sanna Nyassi 71), Roger Levesque.
Substitutes Not Used: Fredy Montero, Jeff Parke, Nathan Sturgis, Kasey Keller.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Michael Fucito 3, Miguel Montano 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Michael Fucito 2, Miguel Montano 2); FOULS: 13 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Roger Levesque 2); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Michael Fucito 5); SAVES: 1 (Terry Boss 1)
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: -Hector Vergara; Darren Clark
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Time of Game: 1:51
83rd minute: Montano out, Gonzalez in.
71st minute: Nyassi in for Fucito, who we have been told has a left ankle sprain.
68th minute: Seattle goes up 2-0 ... on another Fucito goal. This one came on a free kick just outside the penalty area. Miguel Montano faked the shot, then Fucito struck it to the top left corner, with goalkeeper Orlin Vallencillo barely even turning his head to watch the net snap.
Attendance: 11,768. And while that is by far the smallest crowd ever to see the Sounders at Qwest, it is more than the regular-season average for three MLS teams: Dallas, San Jose and Kansas City.
62nd minute: Vagenas in for Fernandez.
Second half: ... had begun. No substitutions.
Halftime: Sounders up 1-0, thanks to Michael Fucito making Marathon pay for a defensive blunder.
Small crowd, but even the reduced number of south end supporters are making a nice atmosphere and seem to be having a nice time.
Sounders took three shots to Marathons four, but put two on goal to Marathon's one.
Second 15 minutes: The Sounders goal has opened up the game. Marathon is moving forward now, getting much better chances than they did earlier. Only a very nice kick save by Boss has saved this game from being even.
21st minute: Marathon defender Adolfo Machado lost the ball at the top of the penalty area, Seattle's Michael Fucito took one touch into the box and then fired to the wide side to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead.
First 15 minutes: In terms of group play, this game is meaningful to Marathon, not Seattle. That said, the Sounders have dominated the early going. My neck is starting to hurt from looking only left ... the Sounders' attacking side. The best chance just came, with keeper Orllin Vallencillo knocking away a point-blank shot from Seattle's Alvaro Fernandez.
Kickoff: The game has begun, in front of what is by far the smallest crowd ever to watch the Sounders at Qwest Field.
The Green Monsters of Marathon are in green/green, the Sounders in electricity yellow/yellow.
Lineups: Sounders: GK, Boss; D Scott, Marshall, Graham, Wahl; M Estrada, Seamon, Fernandez, Montano; F Fucito, Levesque. Reserves: Keller, Gonzalez, Montero, Nyassi, Parke, Sturgis, Vagenas.
That is largely the kind of lineup coach Sigi Schmid was talking about in today's preview story ... a lineup full of guys eager to impress him for more playing time.
Marathon: GK Vallencillo; D Henriquez, Acevedo, Norales, Palacios; M Berrios, Machado, Palacios, Valladares; F Amarilla, Mejia. Reserves: Orio, Diamond, Crisanto, Mayorquin, Paz, Rodriguez, Florez.
Pregame: Marathon-at-Sounders, 7 p.m., Qwest Field. Lots of tickets remaining, but as mentioned in the post below: No live TV.
We'll keep this blog post open all evening for pregame, in-game and postgame reports, and of course, your comments