Saprissa Advances In CONCACAF Play By Edging Seattle Sounders 2-1

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Saprissa Advances In CONCACAF Play By Edging Seattle Sounders 2-1
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Nate Jaqua gave the Sounders an early lead with a goal against Saprissa, but it was his team's only score in a 2-1 setback.

It was a victory that CD Saprissa of Costa Rica needed to advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and one it achieved 2-1 over the host Seattle Sounders FC before 11,434 Tuesday night.

Saprissa Coach Rob Myers inserted Josue Martinez into action in the 56th minute.  It proved a beneficial substitution as Martinez scored the decisive goal in the 87th minute.  Goalkeeper Kasey Keller blocked a Martinez shot, but the ball deflected off the near post and into the net for the game winner.   

It was a victory that CD Saprissa of Costa Rica needed to advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and one it achieved 2-1 over the host Seattle Sounders FC before 11,434 Tuesday night.

Seattle, which has developed a recent pattern during a highly successful phase of scoring an early goal to get things started right, did so against Saprissa.  Forward Nate Jaqua tapped in the goal from 4 yards out in the 17th minute.  Action commenced with Mike Fucito delivering a free kick into the box from 40 yards out.  After the ball bounced in front of the goal Alvaro Fernandez launched a shot that was deflected to Jaqua.  

Sounders nation responded vigorously, concluding that the early lead was indicative of how the rest of the evening would go.  Their confidence was quickly rocked in the 26th minute.  

Keller came out of the box to claim the ball.  There appeared to be a communication problem between the veteran goalkeeper and defender Zach Scott.  Jairo Arrieta was able to knock the ball free and move unimpeded toward the net, tapping it in for the goal.  

Saprissa’s triumph improved its Group C CONCACAF record to 3-2-1 and 10 points.  Mexico's CF Monterrey topped the group.  It will play the group's final match Thursday against Marathon of Honduras.

Sounders FC  finished Group C competition at 1-5-0 with 3 points.  It scored its lone win against Marathon in Seattle.  

The setback was Seattle's first loss in its last seven matches over all competitions.  It stands at 6-1 with the only setback being a 3-2 loss at Monterrey in CONCACAF action  on September 22.

While Tuesday’s loss marked the end of CONCACAF Champions League action for this season, Sounders FC clinched a spot in the 2011-12 tournament by winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a finals win over the Columbus Crew.

Seattle held a 12-9 advantage in shots.  The teams were even at 5-5 on goal.  It was an evening of numerous yellow cards with nine cards handed out.  

Saprissa was compelled to finish action with 10 men after the ejection of Alexander Robinson for drawing his second caution in the 90th minute.  For Saprissa the good news was that this disadvantage occurred so late in the action.

Saprissa had won the first meeting with Sounders FC in San Jose 2-0 September 14.  It was a night when Seattle’s lone Costa Rican player, defender Leo Gonzalez, returned home for the first time in a year and a half and received the misfortune of a first half red card that put the Sounders at a disadvantage the remainder of the evening.  Gonzalez was on last night’s roster but was not used by Coach Schmid.

Kasey Keller was a surprise starter.  This occurred because Keller’s backup, Terry Boss, who started recent CONCACAF games, was held out due to a recently sustained injury.  

Fredy Montero was also held out of play following a minor quad injury but will be ready for playoff action.  He is unable to play Saturday in the closing MLS game of the year at Houston due to a yellow card violation against Chivas USA.

The Sounders now head for Texas and the meeting with the Houston Dynamo.  It will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.  

Seattle now stands at 19-14-8 in all competitions.  It has four of the top 10 attendances in the CONCACAF tournament this year.

Ever hustling forward Jaqua put the evening’s action in a philosophical perspective:

"It wasn't our best performance. We were definitely disappointed but it's one you just move forward from and we just have to shrug it off. We have got bigger fish this weekend."

The match took on great significance for Saprissa Coach Myers in that it propelled his team into the next round of Champions League play.

"It (the victory) was very important,” Myers said.  “We had two years with results of not passing to the second phase. Today we had a chance.  We played against a team with strong personality. We knew we had to win and are full of pride and happy about passing to the next phase."

Sounders Coach Schmid naturally had a different spin on the game.

"It's always disappointing when you give up a late goal like that,” Schmid said, “but that's the way it was today. Not a particularly good game for us. There were times when we created some chances and were effective, but overall, our possession of the ball wasn't what it usually is.

“They did a good job of holding the ball and making us chase it and we dropped off a little too much and allowed them to develop that game. We did a little better in the second half, but at the end of the day it wasn't good enough."

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