SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS – Seattle Sounders FC won a game, a group and a ticket forward in CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday 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 with Marathon (0-1-1) at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders are assured of advancing to the CCL quarterfinals when the tournament resumes in 2013.
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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 went 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 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 are nine points ahead of Seattle after rallying for a 2-2 draw with Portland Wednesday.
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 in Seattle.
“I was really proud,” Schmid said after the game. “Obviously we put a lot of people out there who aren’t regularly in our starting lineup, and I thought they came through and played very, very well.”
Sounders’ reaction and more on the Marathon match is available at blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer.