Nate Jaqua proved to be the hero Wednesday night, scoring in extra time and giving Seattle Sounders FC a 2-0 victory over San Francisco FC of Panama.
With the win in front of 21,233 fans at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit from their July 26 match in Panama and advanced to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said his team had to work for this victory.
“Sometimes when you get into where the luck is turned against you a little bit, I think with us over the last few games sometimes it seems like you have to grind out a victory, or you just have to work really hard at the victory and I think that was the case for us today,” Schmid said. “I think we were the better team over the 120 minutes.”
Jaqua, who entered as a substitute in the 68th minute for Pat Noonan, scored in the 98th minute.
The goal came off a pass from Alvaro Fernandez that took a deflection before getting to Jaqua, alone on the six-yard box.
San Francisco goalkeeper Miguel Torres stumbled and crawled in an attempt to make the save, but Jaqua put a powerful shot just below the crossbar.
The Sounders controlled the time of possession in the first half and scored their first goal when Fernandez headed the ball off the left post. Torres could only stand flat-footed and watch as the ball sailed well out of his reach.
The play was set up by Fredy Montero, who made a lead pass to Leo Gonzalez on the left flank. Gonzalez one-timed an out-swinging cross to just outside the six-yard box, where Fernandez was waiting.
Seattle missed several other opportunities, outshooting its opponent 28-5.
Fernandez had earlier chances — in the second, 24th and 35th minutes — but all narrowly missed, the last of which forced the designated player to clench his jersey in his fists and scream in anger.
“Truth is, I was getting a little bit disillusioned ... but the good thing about soccer is it gives those opportunities back to you,” said Fernandez through a translator.
Midfielder Mauro Rosales proved to be in a different class than his foes, making several key timed runs and perfectly placed crosses. Consistently breaking loose from his marker, he gave the Sounders several second chances, which helped lead to 12 corner kicks.
The Monks had no answer for Rosales and appeared unable to contain him.
Schmid said Rosales is busy and active and has been a great addition to the team because he plays with such passion and energy.
The Sounders’ 1-0 lead after regulation left the aggregate score tied at 1 and forced the extra time.
The Sounders advance to Group D of the Champions League, with defending tournament champion Monterrey (Mexico), Communicaciones (Guatemala) and more than likely Herediano (Costa Rica), which beat Alpha United (Guyana) 8-0 in the first leg of their qualifier. Seattle will host Communicaciones at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 16 in its Group D opener.
San Francisco FC, the 2011 Clausura league champion, won the first leg of the series 1-0 last Tuesday on a 28th-minute penalty kick by veteran forward Roberto Brown. The Monks had qualified for the CCL preliminary round four seasons in a row.
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