Sounders FC routed, 6-1, by Santos Laguna
Seattle loses series on 7-3 aggregate, is eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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With hopes of being the first MLS team in 10 years to beat a Mexican opponent in a CONCACAF knockout round, Sounders FC took a 2-1 series lead to Santos Laguna on Wednesday for the road leg of a Champions League quarterfinal.
The lead didn't last 10 minutes.
And in the end, Seattle didn't even come close.
Santos, the top-scoring team in Mexico, showcased its offensive prowess with an authoritative 6-1 win at Estadio Corona to easily take the series, 7-3 on aggregate, and clinch a CCL semifinal berth.
The Warriors will get another MLS team in the next round: Toronto FC, which advanced past the favored Los Angeles Galaxy in another quarterfinal Wednesday.
The humbled Sounders, after suffering their worst loss in competition, now turn their focus to Saturday's MLS opener against Toronto.
"It's just a matter of us showing our character right now and standing back up," said coach Sigi Schmid. "It's easy to go hide after a loss like this."
With the series tied 3-3 in the second half Wednesday, Santos took the lead for good in the 49th minute on a goal by red-hot forward Herculez Gomez, a U.S. international and former A-League Sounder.
The go-ahead score came on a lethal Warriors counterattack that left Gomez with a wide-open chance in front of the Sounders' goal, which he finished calmly.
Seattle, desperate to answer, continued to attack. That just opened up space for the Santos juggernaut, which poured it on with goals by Gomez (67th minute), Christian Suarez (76th) and Carlos Ochoa (81st).
"They made us pay for every mistake we had," said Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales.
The six goals were the most the Sounders have allowed in competition.
"It's easy to point fingers and say this guy or that guy didn't have a good game," said Schmid. "As a coaching staff, we need to look at it and we need to see what we need to do to avoid these kind of things in the future."
Led by Gomez, who has seven goals in his last five games, the rout only further stamped Mexico's dominance in the region.
Primera Division teams are 13-1 against MLS squads in CONCACAF series since 2002, and have won the last 11 in a row by a combined 55-25. Since the tournament format changed in 2008, Mexican teams have never lost a home-and-home series to a team from another country.
And Santos, tied for first in its league, is particularly dominant at home: now 5-0 in CCL home games this tournament, with a 20-4 goal differential.
The Sounders had been unbeaten in their last three CCL road games. But in a disastrous three-minute span in the first half, their series lead evaporated.
Just moments after two outstanding by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, Santos scored on an eighth-minute shot by Suarez.
Forward Oribe Peralta followed that up in the 10th minute, when he shielded off Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and fired a shot past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
That gave the Warriors a 3-2 series lead, but Fernandez pulled things even in the 37th minute, finishing a header past Sanchez on a cross from forward Fredy Montero for his third goal of the tournament.
But the second half was all Santos, as the Sounders' CCL dream ended embarrassingly.
"What I care about and what the team cares about is Saturday, and our opening game of the season," said Gspurning. "We have to keep our heads up."
• Sounders forward Eddie Johnson entered the game in the 62nd minute but had to leave in the 81st with a hip flexor injury.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
Editors note: Joshua Mayers did not accompany the team to Mexico and his story was written from Seattle after watching a live TV broadcast.
Santos Laguna 6, Sounders FC 1
|Seattle FC||1 0 — 1|
|Santos Laguna (Mexico)||2 4 — 6|
Seattle Sounders FC — Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Christian Sivebaek 77), Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, David Estrada (Eddie Johnson 62, Roger Levesque 81), Fredy Montero. Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch, Servando Carrasco
Santos Laguna — Oswaldo Sanchez, Ivan Estrada, Aaron Galindo, Felipe Baloy, Osmar Mares, Marc Crosas (Rodolfo Salinas 33), Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Daniel Ludena (Candido Ramirez 63), Christian Suarez, Herculez Gomez (Carlos Ochoa 69), Oribe Peralta. Substitutes not used: Miguel Becerra, Santiago Hoyos, Cesar Ibanez, Carlos Morales.
|Sounders' worst losses|
|7-0*||Manchester United, 2011|
|6-1||Santos Laguna, 2012|
|4-0||3 times: 2009 (twice), 2010|