SEATTLE — After a lackluster first half in which the Seattle Sounders dominated possession but had precious few genuine scoring opportunities, a 47th-minute goal from Will Bruin flipped the game on its head. That forced Santa Tecla out of their bunker and eventually to their downfall. The Sounders scored three goals between 69’ and 83’ to put the match away, beating Santa Tecla 4-0 (5-2 on aggregate) to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Mexican giants Chivas (they’ll host them on March 7). The capper was supplied by debutante Magnus Wolff Eikrem, finishing a beautiful give-and-go with Clint Dempsey that should have Sounders fans salivating.
Second-half sub: For all the complaints about Brian Schmetzer’s substitutions in the first leg, he deserves an equal amount of credit for wasting no time in bringing on Magnus Wolff Eikrem for Tony Alfaro at the start the second half and moving Gustav Svensson to center back. The move paid off immediately as the Sounders started moving the ball faster and found a goal just a couple minutes after the restart.
Big save: OK, so maybe it didn’t technically count as a foul was called on the free kick, but let’s give Stefan Frei credit for stopping Gerson Mayén’s blast. I realize that if that ball had gotten by Frei that there’s a very good chance the foul would have been called and the goal waved off. But what if the ball hitting the back of the net caused the ref to swallow his whistle? Look, all I’m saying is it was a good save and I’m glad he made it.
- Well, that didn’t take long did it? Eikrem turned the game on its head as soon as he entered. Although he only ended up getting credited with a single goal, he had an impact on all four. His cross that didn’t get cleared set up the first goal, his diagonal ball (yes that was on purpose) set up the second, another diagonal set up the corner that led to the third and he scored the fourth. Not a bad shift, eh?
- There was a mild debate in the press box: Was that a 4-1-3-2 or a diamond in the second half? Brian Schmetzer kinda split the difference and called it a diamond amoeba, which is certainly more accurate. While Harry Shipp (yes, I swear he was playing in the second half) was ostensibly playing as a shuttler, Wolff was very much not on the other side of the field. Whatever it was, it worked wonderfully. Being able to flip a game on its head like that is something we’ve seen Liga MX teams do time and time again and it was nice to see the Sounders do it to someone else.
- In 27 games at home under Brian Schmetzer, the Sounders have now lost just once. In their last six at home, they’ve outscored opponents 19-0, scoring multiple goals in all of those games and scoring at least three in five of them. Their home shutout streak is now 605 minutes. That’s pretty good.
A little bad
- As good as the offense looked, there were some nervy moments in the back, especially in the first half. Alfaro was thankfully subbed off, but before that he seemed dead-set on giving a goal away either through sloppy passing or questionable man-marking. I’m sure this will improve once the Sounders are all full strength, but Alfaro’s performance did not make me feel any better about the prospects of him potentially starting a bunch of games during the World Cup.
4-2-3-1: Frei; Nouhou, Alfaro (Wolff 45’), Marshall, McCrary; Svensson, Roldan; Shipp (Neagle 78’), Dempsey (Wingo 87’), Lodeiro; Bruin.
47’ Bruin (Lodeiro)
Sounders now lead on away-goal tiebreaker. pic.twitter.com/3ElKushAdk— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 2, 2018
69’ Lodeiro (Dempsey)
Look at this glorious stuff. pic.twitter.com/fbYqQ2rltb— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 2, 2018
81’ Marshall (Lodeiro)
Dad beats the guy marking the post. pic.twitter.com/sx5qIdxF2H— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 2, 2018
83’ Wolff (Dempsey)
Man of Match Poll
Who was your man of the match vs. Santa Tecla?
This poll is closed
Lodeiro (1 G, 2 A)
Dempsey (2 A)
Wolff (1 G)
Bruin (1 G)