Alex Caskey fights off a Caledonia defender (Photo courtesy of SoundersFC.com)
There was nothing particularly pretty about the Seattle Sounders' 3-1 win in Caledonia. The scoreline may look nice on paper, and it's certainly satisfying to win any game in which you have to deal with that kind of travel, but it was an utter slopfest. The pitch was slow and slippery, the play was generally uninspired and there was an overarching sense that something bad was about to happen.
Luckily for the Sounders, they played well enough to make that all moot. Fredy Montero kept up his status as the hottest striker in North America, Sammy Ochoa continued to do his thing of scoring whenever he plays and Alex Caskey reminded us that he's not some throw-away part. Even Ochoa's goal, which was easily the prettiest of the bunch, was apparently mishit.
It was exactly the kind of game a good team is supposed to win.
Now the Sounders sit in perfect position to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for a second straight year. Their final two group stage games are against Marathon, who can't really afford to lose any of their three remaining matches.
If the current standings hold, the Sounders would find themselves paired up against Costa Rica's Herediano in the quarterfinals with a potential semifinal against the LA Galaxy looming. That wouldn't seem half bad.
SEA - Alex Caskey (Zach Scott, Sammy Ochoa) 45'
SEA - Sammy Ochoa (Fredy Montero) 60'
CAL - Kareem Joseph (PK) 66'
SEA - Fredy Montero (Alex Caskey) 69'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez (Cordell Cato 61), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey, Fredy Montero (Leo Gonzalez 74), Sammy Ochoa (Christian Tiffert 86).
TOTAL SHOTS: 16; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 1.
Caledonia AIA - Glenroy Samuel, Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, Aubrey David, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Kareem Joseph, Walter Moore, Cornelius Stewart (Conrad Smith 72), Stephan David, Densill Theobald, Jamal Gay (Abdallah Phillips 84), Kerlon Ferguson (Trevin Caesar 63).
Substitutes Not Used: Colin Nelson, Trayon Bobb, Kemron Purcell, Colin Edwards.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; FOULS: 11; OFFSIDE: 4; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 2.
CAL - Walter Moore (caution) 17'
CAL - Densil Theobald (caution) 29'
CAL - Jamal Gay (caution) 71'
CAL - Radanfah Abu Bakr (caution) 87'
Referee: Javier Santos
Referee's Assistants: Antonio Lopez, Jairo Morales
4th Official: William Anderson
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Partly cloudy and 82 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Coach
(On the win...) "Getting six points was important to us because now we've put ourselves in a position where we need to win just one of our last two games. We've got one game at home and we've always said winning games at home is the key...but now we know if we win one of our last two then we win the group. It was a position we wanted to be in at the end of today."
(On the goals scorers...) "They've done well for us and they were very timely goals. [Alex] Caskey's right before halftime was a very important goal, a very timely goal because they had some chances before then. [Sammy] Ochoa scored his goal...it was well taken and got us up. Fredy's goal was very timely because it came right after the PK, about two minutes after the PK at that point. It puts us up 3-1 and we were able to hold it from there."
(On if he was happy with how the team played regardless of the score...) "Yeah. Considering everything that we went through I was very pleased. It was a very difficult travel situation for us. The guys really had very little sleep on Monday night because we had to be at the airport at four o'clock...Our flights got delayed, we didn't get in until way after midnight. It was another night of little sleep. It's hot and humid. The field was not a surface you're going to see in MLS-it's a much different surface. They had to deal with all those things, and so I was very proud that the team was able to deal with that and come out with the result we needed."
(On the defensive effort...) "I thought defensively it was better. I don't like the idea that we keep giving up a PK, especially in this tournament, but I thought it was better than it was against Chivas in terms of marking people tightly in the box. They're a big team, a physical team. They're very dangerous on their set-pieces, so we had to make sure we matched up there and win in those aerial duals. I thought overall our team did all right there and for the most part defensively, even though they got behind us a couple times, we kept the game in front of us most of the time."
(On controlling their own destiny for the rest of the group stage...) "It's huge. Being able to control our destiny is really important. We can look at the next game when it comes up against Marathon in Honduras and we can decide where we're at-where we're at physically. Is that the game where we push and try and lock it up in that game because we've shown ourselves to be good on the road? Last year in the group stage we didn't lose on the road...so we can push for that or we can say, ‘Let's get ready,' because maybe we need some points in league at that stage. So maybe we'll play a little different team in Honduras and we'll push for it when we play at home in the last week of the season. We can analyze a little bit and decide which game we're going to push for that victory."
(On the team's play over the last month...) "Obviously, we've been a good hot weather team-I think historically, the top team in the second half of the season and we're starting to show that again. We're doing well. We're getting goals from different people now, which is really important. The addition of [Christian] Tiffert has helped our team. The addition of [Mario] Martinez has helped our team, so we've got different elements we can go to. Once [Andy] Rose comes back from his injury-Andy has been an important member of the team. I think we have a lot of different options and that makes our team stronger. I was really happy with how we've played and dealt with a lot of things-a lot of adversity-that we had to deal with in this month. A lot of travel that we had to deal with, so I'm pleased. I think we're there where we need to be. I think we're competitive and we're in position to make a move in league, and obviously in a position to advance here."
Sammy Ochoa - Sounders FC Forward
(On the team's play in the second half...) "We knew they were going to come out in the first 15 minutes, they were going to come out strong. We just had to hold the first 15 minutes and put away the chances we had, and we did."
(On his goal...) "We were just keeping the ball and Fredy [Montero] somehow found me in the box. I took a touch inside and I saw the defender cheating, so I hit it. [I] saw the keeper cheating too so I hit it first post and it went in. I was trying to hit it on the ground anyway, but I guess it went a little higher. It was a good goal and a good play. It was a good thing we got the win here."
(On the third goal...) "It was really important because we were up 2-1 and to get the goal right back was just a dagger, I think. Put them away and keep the game under our control and work from there."
(On his play of recent...) "I'm just taking advantage of the time I'm getting, just taking advantage of the time. Sigi said everybody is going to play and we just have to make the most of it."
(On the Sounders FC supporters in attendance...) "It means a lot. It's extra motivation to know that we have people from Seattle coming down to watch our game. It's really good that we have support everywhere we go...It's good having fans wherever we go."
Alex Caskey - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the first half and his goal before halftime...) "I think we came out a little bit slow actually, kind of adapting to the new atmosphere from the long trip and everything. I think it was important to get that first goal at the end of the half and then in the second half we settled down a little bit and started playing better soccer."
(On his goal...) "It was a good build-up. I think [Sammy Ochoa] laid a ball out to Zach [Scott] on the right hand side. It was a little tight and Zach ended up just winning a tackle and it popped to me in the six and I just placed it in."
(On if the goal was a sigh of relief...) "It definitely was. The longer it goes zero-zero, the more dangerous it gets to give up a lead and then have to come back. Especially right before half it was important for us to go in with a lead."
(On the second half...) "I think we kind of weathered the storm from Caledonia in the first half. They came out strong because they needed to win this game. In the second half, it slowed down a little bit and we were able to control the game a little more."
(On the Sounders fans in attendance...) "It's incredible. The willingness to fly all the way down here to Trinidad from as far away as Seattle just shows the enthusiasm of our fans. We appreciate it more than they know."