The Seattle Sounders traveled to Mexico City to face Pumas UNAM in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League and came home with a dramatic draw. After going down 2-0, the Sounders earned two second-half penalties to answer the hosts and tie the game, 2-2. The two penalties, one deep in stoppage that required a VAR consultation, felt like more than a little bit of poetic justice. Pumas opened the scoring on a soft penalty – albeit one that was unlikely to change under review regardless of the way it was called on the field – in the 38th minute. Both teams had chances throughout the first half, but the best of them fell to Pumas, requiring an impressive couple of saves from Stefan Frei. One of those saves came on the penalty, but Frei was judged to come off his line early and the ensuing retake was scored.
Pumas doubled their lead early in the second half, when a series of defensive lapses left a wide open crosser to send in a ball. Yeimar jumped but mistimed it, and Juan Dinenno rose and headed to the ball home to secure his brace. Seattle kept pushing, but looked to be particularly rue a missed chance just after the second Pumas goal when Raúl Ruidíaz got a look from just in front of the goal but his shot was right at a defender on the line. No matter, in the 73rd Ruidíaz forced his defender into a hand ball and Nico Lodeiro stepped up to the penalty spot. After some antics from the opposing goalkeeper, Lodeiro smashed his penalty into the netting side, beating the ‘keeper despite him getting a finger to it. Deep in stoppage time, Cristian Roldan was kicked in the penalty area and the referee took a look at the video and called a second PK for the Sounders. Lodeiro stepped up to this one as well and left no doubt about it as he rocketed the ball over the GK as the game moved on before allotted 6 minutes of stoppage time.
Fully 10 minutes after regulation time the referee blew his whistle to the first leg and sent the two teams back to Seattle level 2-2. Some heated exchanges sparked up between the players after the full-time whistle, with the main focus appearing to be a continuation of the words shared between Lodeiro and the Pumas goalkeeper during and after both penalties.
Clearly these two have plenty more in store for next week’s edition. The Sounders have a week to rest and prepare before hosting Pumas at Lumen Field, with a CCL trophy in front of us all.
11 ‘- Pumas approaches the Sounders area, but Yeimar steps in just in time and tackles the ball away before any real danger can develop.
16 ‘- The Sounders hold the ball in attack for a spell of pressure, but it comes to an end as Jordan Morris gets on the ball right and unleashes a shross that goes out.
26 ‘- Xavier Arreaga steps in to challenge a dribbler but misses, leading to a shot that Stefan Frei leaves no doubt about as he dives and tips away for a corner.
35 ‘- After a poor penalty call, Stefan Frei saves the shot but is judged to have come off his line early. Juan Dinenno scores on the retaken penalty. 1-0 Pumas
40 ‘- On the other end, Alex Roldan draws a free kick at the edge of the box for a handball, and Nico Lodeiro’s shot forces a good save.
45 ‘+ 5 – The Sounders are able to recycle possession, and Lodeiro sends in a cross to the back post. Raúl Ruidíaz heads the ball back to João Paulo, whose shot is well over the bar.
48 ‘- Dinenno doubles the lead with a strong header. A cross is sent in from the Sounders’ left side with no pressure, and the finish is solid. 2-0
50 ‘- The Sounders almost responds immediately, as a Jordan Morris header goes just wide. Seconds later Ruidíaz gets a look at goal but his shot is saved out for a corner.
73 ‘- Ruidíaz draws a penalty for a hand ball. After a little bit of VAR, Lodeiro steps up to the spot. The goalkeeper gets his hands on it, but Lodeiro beats him! 2-1
90 ‘+ 7 – Cristian Roldan is kicked in the penalty area by a defender, giving Lodeiro a second chance from the spot. Lodeiro slams it into the net! Sounders tie it up! 2-2
The CONCACAF-branded meat grinder: As Black & Red United’s Jason Anderson put it, “The CONCACAF Champions League is a machine designed to infuriate.” And infuriate it does. CCL, as one of the most competing trends in the federation, is a meat grinder that breaks you down physically, mentally, emotionally, really in any way you can imagine being broken down. The opponents, environments and officiating crush and tear until all that is left is a coarse pile of what was once a football team, but the Sounders have proven themselves equally capable of being a part of that machine as any team in the region. Against Pumas, just as every other team they’ve met so far in the CCL, they were just as often the team causing the infuriation.
Magical moments: More than a few of the Sounders looked like they were just about done as the game hit the hour mark. Nico Lodeiro was making poor touches and struggling to do the kinds of things that he often makes seem as easy as breathing. Player after player failed to show their quality in the moments it most mattered. Then Raúl Ruidíaz, whose saved shot in the box was Seattle’s best chance so far, drew a penalty and Lodeiro did the exact thing that made him a habit out of the spot. And then he did it again! Even when things aren’t going their way, or players are at their best, this team and these players are still capable of these magical moments, and they’ll need a few more if they are going to raise the CCL trophy at Lumen Field next week.
A shot at history: You’ve heard it before. Whether it was Garth Lagerwey, or myself, or Jeremiah Oshan, Dave Clark, or anyone else from this site or the national soccer media, you heard that this is our shot at history. An opportunity to put on the Seattle Freaking Sounders in the record books. To become the first MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League. It’s true, and we’re one step closer. There’s still 90 – or 100, as this game showed – minutes left to be played. Or maybe 120, or penalties, I can’t predict the future. But they’ll be played at home. Seattle took care of business in the first leg, coming back from a 2-0 down to level the game and making the job simple next Wednesday: win, and you become immortal. The Sounders – We – We only need to win, and live forever in history and record books as the first. Making history is a habitat for the Seattle Sounders. Whether it’s the youth or the First Team, it’s in their blood. So let’s go make some more history.
Miss a penalty? Nico Lodeiro would never.
Schmetz: “The thing around their team at the end of the captain was a positive for me, because I knew what was going on. I knew what they were trying to do to Nico and we had to stay composed, and we had to think. the game “
– Charles Boehm (@cboehm) April 28, 2022
56.6% – The Sounders won 56.6% of the duels against Pumas.
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