PANAMA CITY – A first-half penalty kick was all San Francisco FC needed to take a 1-0 advantage Tuesday in the first leg of its aggregate-score two-game series against Sounders FC in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“Frustrating,” Seattle forward Pat Noonan said. “We had our chances. We played well defensively and we made a mistake and they made us pay for it. We had our chances.”
In the 28th minute, a pass by Seattle defender Jeff Parke was intercepted at the top of the Monks’ attacking zone. The Panamanian club played the ball into the penalty area, where Parke slipped on the wet turf, his hand brushing the ball.
“Our back four was completely in disarray, so then they throw the ball in there,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Parke makes a tackle with his hand, the ball probably slipped underneath him.”
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Roberto Brown drove the penalty kick past goalkeeper Kasey Keller for what would prove to be the only goal.
San Francisco will try to protect that advantage one week from tonight, when it visits CenturyLink Field for the concluding leg – in effect, the final 90 minutes of a 180-minute competition to advance into group play of CONCACAF Champions League.
“It’s important for us to come back and win this thing at home,” Schmid said. “And it’s great preparation for the MLS playoffs. We have got to show our ability to come back and score some goals.”
The wet field at Estadio Rommel Fernandez was a factor as players from both teams repeatedly had trouble staying upright, and both teams struggled to maintain any offensive flow.
Seattle generally had better control of the ball. But San Francisco managed to get four shots on goal to two by Seattle.
Even at that, the Sounders had several opportunities to equalize.
In the 54th minute, Fredy Montero buried a shot into the side netting. A few minutes later, an apparent handball in the box by San Francisco went uncalled.
In the 84th minute, Noonan put a header off the far post, and the rebound when to Alvaro Fernandez, who couldn’t finish. In stoppage time, substitute Mike Fucito had a chance from in front of the goal, but couldn’t finish or sweep the rebound across the line.
“We had a lot of good chances,” Schmid said.
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