Tea Seattle Sounders traveled to Mexico City to face Pumas UNAM in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League and came home with a dramatic draw. After going down 2-0, the Sounders earned two second half penalties to answer the hosts and tie the game, 2-2. The two penalties, one deep in stoppage that required a VAR consultation to be called, felt like more than a little bit of poetic justice. Pumas opened the scoring on a soft penalty — albeit one that was unlikely to be changed under review regardless of which way it was called on the field — in the 38th minute. Both teams had chances throughout the first half, but the best of them fell to Pumas, requiring an impressive couple of saves from Stefan Frei. One of those saves came on the penalty, but Frei was judged to have come off his line early and the ensuing retake was scored.
Pumas doubled their lead early in the second half, when a series of defensive lapses left a wide open crosser to send a ball in. Yeimar jumped but mistimed it, and Juan Dinenno rose up and headed the ball home to secure his brace. Seattle kept pushing, but looked likely to particularly rue a missed chance just after the second Pumas goal when Raúl Ruidíaz got a look from just in front of goal but his shot was right at a defender on the line. No matter, in the 73rd Ruidíaz forced his defender into a hand ball and Nico Lodeiro stepped up to the penalty spot. After some antics from the opposing goalkeeper, Lodeiro smashed his penalty into the side netting, beating the ‘keeper despite him getting a finger to it. Deep in stoppage time, Cristian Roldan was kicked in the penalty area and the referee took a look at the video and called a second PK for the Sounders. Lodeiro stepped up to this one as well and left no doubt about it as he rocketed the ball over the GK as the game moved beyond the initially allotted 6 minutes of stoppage time.
Fully 10 minutes after regulation time had ended the referee blew his whistle to end the first leg and send the two teams back to Seattle level at 2-2. Some heated exchanges sparked up between the players after the full-time whistle, with the main focus appearing to be a continuation of the words shared between Lodeiro and the Pumas goalkeeper during and after both penalties.
Clearly these two have plenty more in store for next week’s edition. The Sounders have a week to rest and prepare before hosting Pumas at Lumen Field, with a chance to lift the CCL trophy in front of all of us.
11′ — Pumas approach the Sounders area, but Yeimar steps across just in time and tackles the ball away before any real danger can develop.
16′ — The Sounders hold the ball in the attack for a spell of pressure, but it comes to an end as Jordan Morris gets on the ball on the right and unleashes a shross that goes out.
26′ — Xavier Arreaga steps to challenge a dribbler but misses, leading to a shot that Stefan Frei leaves no doubt about as he dives and tips away for a corner.
35′ — After a poor penalty call, Stefan Frei saves the shot but is judged to have come off his line early. Juan Dinenno scores on the retaken penalty. 1-0 Pumas
40′ — On the other end, Alex Roldan draws a free kick at the edge of the box for a handball, and Nico Lodeiro’s shot forces a good save.
45’+5 — The Sounders are able to recycle possession, and Lodeiro sends in a cross to the back post. Raúl Ruidíaz heads the ball back to João Paulo, whose shot is well over the bar.
48′ — Dinenno doubles the lead with a strong header. A cross is sent in from the Sounders’ left side with no pressure, and the finish is solid. 2-0
50′ — The Sounders nearly respond immediately, as a Jordan Morris header goes just wide. Seconds later Ruidíaz gets a look at goal but his shot is saved out for a corner.
73′ — Ruidíaz draws a penalty for a handball. After a little bit of VAR, Lodeiro steps up to the spot. The goalkeeper gets his hands to it, but Lodeiro beats him! 2-1
90’+7 — Cristian Roldan is kicked in the penalty area by a defender, giving Lodeiro a second chance from the spot. Lodeiro slams it into the net! Sounders tie it up! 2-2
The CONCACAF-branded meat grinder: As Black & Red United’s Jason Anderson put it, “The CONCACAF Champions League is a machine designed to infuriate.” And infuriate it does. CCL, as most competitions in the federation tend to be, is a meat grinder that breaks you down physically, mentally, emotionally, really in any manner you can imagine being broken down. The opponents, environments and officiating crush and tear you until all that is left is a coarse pile of what once was a football team, but the Sounders have proven themselves equally capable of being a part of that machine as any team in the region. Against Pumas, just as every other team they’ve met so far in CCL, they were just as often the team causing the infuriation.
magical moments: More than a few of the Sounders looked like they were just about done as the game hit the hour mark. Nico Lodeiro was making poor touches and struggling to do the kinds of things that he often makes seem as easy as breathing. Player after player failed to show their quality in the moments it most mattered. Then Raúl Ruidíaz, whose saved shot in the box had been Seattle’s best chance so far, drew a penalty and Lodeiro did the exact thing he’s made a habit of from the spot. And then he did it again! Even when things aren’t going their way, or players aren’t at their best, this team and these players are still capable of these magical moments, and they’ll need a few more if they are going to raise the CCL trophy at Lumen Field next week.
A shot at history: You’ve heard it before. Whether it was Garth Lagerwey, or myself, or Jeremiah Oshan, Dave Clark, or any other person from this site or the national soccer media, you’ve heard that this is our shot at history. An opportunity to put the Seattle Freaking Sounders in the record books. To become the first MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League. It’s true, and we’re one step closer. There’s still 90 — or 100, as this game showed — minutes left to be played. Or maybe 120, or penalties, I can’t predict the future. But they’ll be played at home. Seattle took care of business in the first leg, coming back from 2-0 down to level the game and make the job simple next Wednesday: win, and you become immortal. The Sounders — we — only need to win, and forever live in history and record books as the first. Making history is a habit for the Seattle Sounders. Whether it’s the youth or the First Team, it’s in their blood. So let’s go make some more history.
Miss a penalty? Nico Lodeiro would never.
Schmetz: “The team surrounding their captain at the end of the thing was a positive for me, because I know what was going on. I know what they were trying to do to Nico and we had to stay composed, and we had to think the game”
—Charles Boehm (@cboehm) April 28, 2022
56.6% — The Sounders won 56.6% of the duels against Pumas.
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