Sounders FC won a game, a group and a ticket forward in CONCACAF Champions League tonight at Estadio Olimpico.
A header by Brad Evans in the 78th minute gave Seattle a 3-2 win over CD Marathon, which had come from behind twice on penalty kicks.
When the home side couldn’t equalize a third time, the Sounders moved to 3-0 in CCL Group 4. That clinched their spot at the top of the group regardless of what happens in the Oct. 24 rematch, when Marathon (0-1-1) visits CenturyLink Field. As a result, the Sounders are the first club assured of advancing to the CCL quarterfinal round when the tournament resumes in spring.
Seattle jumped ahead in the 11th minute, when Sammy Ochoa headed home a cross from Mario Martinez, who was playing in his hometown.
Marathon equalized in the 35th minute, when goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was called for a penalty in the box, and then couldn’t quite deflect away Luis Berrios’ PK.
The Sounders slipped ahead again in the 62nd minute when Eddie Johnson scored from inside the area after taking a pass from Andy Rose.
Berrios pulled Marathon even again in the 68th minute on another penalty kick, this time after Patrick Ianni and Julian Rapalo tumbled together in the area.
What proved to be the game-winner combined a couple of players who had subbed on in the second half: Osvaldo Alonso, who came on in the 61st minute, assisting Evans, who came on in the 69th.
The Sounders return to Major League Soccer action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, playing host to league-leading San Jose. The Earthquakes moved nine points ahead of Seattle on Wednesday, coming from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Portland.
It was partly with an eye to the Quakes’ visit that coach Sigi Schmid had kept Fredy Montero, Alonso and Evans out of the starting lineup, and had left players such as Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert back home in Seattle.
78th minute: GOAL Seattle. Alonso finds Evans at the penalty spot and Evans heads it in. That's a combination of two Sounders' second-half subs. Seattle, 3-2.
69th minute: Evans comes on for Rose. One Seattle sub left.
68th minute: GOAL Marathon, Berrios once again on a PK. This one followed call on Ianni in the box. 2-2.
62nd minute: GOAL Seattle. Sort of against recent play, Johnson scores from inside the box, finishing after pass into box from Rose. Seattle, 2-1.
61st minute: As Sounders begin to look like heat is getting to them, Schmid makes first sub: Alonso in for Caskey.
Second half: ... has begun. No Sounders' lineup changes. Altamirano in, Sandoval out for Marathon.
Halftime: 1-1. Stats: Shots, 13-5 MAR; on goal 3-1 MAR; corners 3-3; possession 59% SEA.
35th minute: GOAL Marathon. PK by Berrios. Gspurning gets his figers to it, but can't keep it out. PK had been awarded seconds earlier when Marathon had a breakaway into the box and Gspurning charged and was called for foul (and given yellow). 1-1.
11th minute: GOAL Seattle. Sammy Ochoa puts Sounders up 1-0 with header in traffic from 7 yards. His third goal of this CCL. Assist to Mario Martinez (playing in his hometown) on cross from the left side.
Eighth minute: First really good chance of the game as Marathon shot trickles just wide of Sounders goal.
Kickoff: We're under way: Sounders in cyan/cyan; Marathon in green/white.
Lineup: Here are Sounders starters: GK Gspurning; D Scott (captain), Ianni, Hurtado, Burch; M Martinez, Carrasco, Rose, Casey; F Ochoa, Johnson. Reserves: Ford, Parke, Gonzalez, Alonso, Cato, Evans, Montero.
Marathon starters: GK Mendoza; D Sabillon, Castro, P. Martinez, Berrios; M Sandoval, Acevedo, Mayorquin, Rapalo; F Brown, Diamond. Reserves: Orio, Meza, Flores, Altamirano, Vega, Arzu, De Jesus Dono.
Pregame: The Sounders meet Marathon tonight at 7 p.m. in CONCACAF Champions League. With a win, the Sounders will win the group and clinch advancement to the CCL quarterfinals.
The game will be shown on Fox Soccer. We'll also keep this blog post open for pregame, in-game and postgame news. And I'll be tweeting @donruiztnt.Be back with lineups once available.