Holy relief, Batman. For all the frustrations and yelling that I'm sure we all did at the TV on Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders' 3-2 win over Marathon had to be one of the most satisfying wins I've experienced in quite some time.
I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but it's games like this that really get the mind working. First off, you have a referee who is seen exchanging hugs with one of the Marathon players before the game. He then goes on to wave off what looks like a perfectly legitimate Zach Scott goal and awards a pair of penalties. Sure, there's an argument to be made in all three cases, but it just looks so bad.
Anyway, that all just helped fuel the emotions from a fan perspective. As CCL games go, this was highly entertaining. With both teams motivated to claim the full three points, it was a wide-open affair that saw the momentum shift noticeably several times. Luckily for us, the Sounders were clearly the more skilled team.
Although the Sounders were outshot 20-7, the chances were pretty heavily favoring Seattle and, on a different field, this easily could have been a much more lopsided score. As it was, Sammy Ochoa, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans all finished their chances -- none of which were easy -- and the Sounders qualified for the CCL quarterfinals for a second straight year.
It's a huge result, if for no other reason than the final group stage game can be used as a glorified reserve game. There's absolutely no reason the Sounders need to take any chances and Marathon won't even have anything to play for, either. A win would basically lock up a top three spot in the quarters, but a tie could yield the same result.
SEA - Sammy Ochoa (Mario Martinez) 11'
MAR - Mario Berrios (PK) 35'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Andy Rose) 62'
MAR - Mario Berrios (PK) 67'
SEA - Brad Evans (Osvaldo Alonso) 78'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Brad Evans 69), Alex Caskey (Osvaldo Alonso 61), Sammy Ochoa, Eddie Johnson (Fredy Montero 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Osvaldo Alonso, Cordell Cato.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 19; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3.
CD Marathon - Jose Mendoza, Mauritius Sabillon, Luis Castro, Pastor Martinez (Quiarol Arzu 77), Mario Berrios, Junior Sandoval (Cristhian Altamirano 46), Mariano Acevedo, Reinieri Mayorquin, Julian Rapalo, Mitchell Brown, Randy Diamond (Rony Flores 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Shane Orio, David Meza, Tuliko Vega, Manuel De Jesus Dono.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 17; OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 0.
SEA - Servando Carrasco (caution) 26'
SEA - Michael Gspurning (caution) 34'
MAR - Luis Castro (caution) 42'
SEA - Patrick Ianni (caution) 67'
SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 72'
MAR - Reinieri Mayorquin (caution) 84'
Referee: Marlon Mejia
Referee's Assistants: Hector Recinos, Goevany Garcia
4th Official: Ruben Medrano
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly cloudy and 81 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Coach
(On qualifying for the CCL quarterfinals...) "It's tremendous. It's a goal we set for ourselves, that we wanted to qualify tonight and we were able to accomplish that. It means that the last game now, which is during the last week of our season right before an important game with LA, we can go into that game relaxed and free of mind. I was really proud. Obviously we put a lot of players out there who aren't regularly in our starting lineup, but I thought they came through and they played very, very well."
(On going up 1-0 early...) "We knew going into the game, we felt confident we would get chances. We knew they were going to get some chances, too, because it's their style of play-they're wide open and they were going to press the issue. It was certainly a great cross from Mario [Martinez] and Sammy [Ochoa] got good position, it was a great header...It was a great ball, it was a great service, and it was a great header. I thought Sammy Ochoa was very good tonight."
(On going into halftime tied 1-1...) "It was difficult because both of their penalty kicks came right on the heels of us having a good scoring opportunity. In the first half, Eddie Johnson was in the box. It looked like he had dribbled past the guy, had a shot, tried to dribble the goalkeeper, didn't get the shot off. Then they come down and get a penalty kick. Same thing happened in the second half...It was ironic the way both penalties came right on the opposite end of us having a good scoring chance."
(On the changes in the second half...) "What we tried to do was stay a little deeper with Andy Rose and [Servando] Carrasco, and have the outside midfielders pinch in a little bit more-[Alex] Caskey and Mario. Give Mario a little more freedom to come inside. It opened up the flanks for them a little bit, but I also thought it gave us some good situations to counter off of. Again, we were unlucky not to get a couple more. It's the kind of game when you play down here in the heat and humidity and the size of the field and the kind of team that knows they have to get a result, the game's going to be wide open, so it should have been an exciting game."
(On Brad Evans' game-winner...) "It was great. Obviously, we've taken four goals in this competition so far, and all four have been on PK's. We were afraid they were going to call another PK on the other end. We were disappointed in the second one to give up and it was 2-2, but then obviously [Osvaldo] Alonso played the ball over. It was a great cross, and Brad, very similar to Sammy Ochoa, got good position and hit a good header and put it in the back of the net. His heading ability is a quality that Brad brings to the game for us."
(On Saturday's game against San Jose...) "We want to win. It's a six-point game against San Jose. We were disappointed that Portland didn't pick up the three points there. We ended up only coming away with one. We need to get three points here to put ourselves in serious contention for the Western division title and keep our distance from the Galaxy and the teams chasing up behind us, as well. It's definitely a six-point game, it's a big game, and it's great we were able to rest some guys [tonight]."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On advancing to the CCL quarterfinals for the second straight year...) "I think that was our goal coming down here-we don't want to leave for the last game and leave it to chance. We go up twice, we end up 2-2 with 10-15 minutes left, then we end up 3-2. For us, it's a good confidence booster going into this weekend, especially with a big one coming up for us. This win under our belt will help us along the way, I think, in the long run. Putting in the effort tonight that the guys put in-we got to rest some guys and some guys got to stretch their legs a little bit tonight also. These trips are good. Whenever you come out with a victory down here, you got the team bonding when you're in the hotel all day long, just playing cards and biding your time. There's a lot that goes into these trips, more than just the game itself. To come out with a victory will help us down the line."
(On Mario Martinez getting an assist in his home country...) "I think it's going to be an adjustment period with anybody, no matter what their quality is. He's a high quality player, he's going to come in and play a special role for us. Everybody is going to have to get used to them. I think we've had two weeks of training with him. For us, it's going to take time. For him, it's going to take time, but you can see that he's a player that wants to play one-two touch. He's on the right team if you want to play with the ball on the ground. He's going to fit in well, and I thought he was great tonight. He's creative, I think he's going to push forward for us and create some dangerous crosses. Credit to him for being in front of the home crowd and getting a win."
(On his game-winning goal...) "You come on and the opportunity presented itself...The ball got played out to Serva [Carrasco], Serva finds Ozzie [Alonso] and I find myself with a little bit of space, rise above a little bit above my defender, and put the header away. It's all about finishing our chances. We had a couple chances where we could have gone up 3-2, 4-2 even. That's something we build off, too. For us, good confidence moving forward and a good result."
Sammy Ochoa - Sounders FC Forward
(On the win...) "It was a good result for us. The team played good, we got two penalties called in the box, but we kept playing, kept to the game plan, and we got the win."
(On scoring early...) "We talked about it. If we had a goal early, it's going to bring them down because they're going to come out strong the first 20 minutes. I got a good cross from Mario. He gave me one last game against Caledonia but I didn't put it away. He told me on the next pass he gave me I better put it away. Luckily, I put it in and we went up 1-0."
(On Mario Martinez's play...) "He's a good player. He's good on the ball, he likes to touch the ball a lot, get one-twos. His free kicks are good, his crossing is good, he's a good addition to the team. He's a little different than the players we have, and he's going to come on good."
(On his success in CCL play...) "I'm just there at the right time. Taking my chances and making them count. If it's this tournament where I'm getting the playing time, I'm going to take advantage of it."