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Originally published April 9, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Page modified April 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

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Seattle Sounders eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League by Santos Laguna

Sounders FC fought to within a goal of being the second team in MLS history to make the CONCACAF Champions League finals but couldn't complete an improbable comeback against Mexico's Santos Laguna, ultimately losing a two-game semifinal, 2-1, on aggregate.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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One goal away.

Sounders FC fought to within a goal of being the second team in MLS history to make the CONCACAF Champions League finals but couldn't complete an improbable comeback against Mexico's Santos Laguna, ultimately losing a two-game semifinal, 2-1, on aggregate.

Seattle earned a 1-1 tie Tuesday at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico, having lost the first leg last week at CenturyLink Field, 1-0.

"The guys battled," coach Sigi Schmid said in an email distributed by the team. "We put ourselves in a position where we could have advanced and won it."

Trailing by two goals in the series, the Sounders made things interesting in the 73rd minute when midfielder Lamar Neagle slammed home a rebound after Steve Zakuani's shot was saved by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

A second Seattle goal would've been enough to advance despite a 2-2 aggregate tie due to the away-goals tiebreaker, which would've been in the Sounders favor.

But it never came.

Defender Djimi Traore had one of the better chances in the 82nd minute, but his header in front of goal was saved by Sanchez.

Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales had a number of dangerous crosses in the closing moments, but none resulted in a dramatic series winner.

"Our finishing needed to be better, but I'm proud of our quality and the effort we put in," Schmid said.

Santos had opened the scoring in the 20th minute when forward Darwin Quintero curled in a beautiful free kick that caromed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced just inches over the goal line.

It marked the Colombian international's 16th goal in the CCL, second most in tournament history.

The Sounders actually had the better of the early going but couldn't finish chances by forward Eddie Johnson (seventh minute) and Zakuani (ninth). Other first-half opportunities were squandered by Shalrie Joseph and Alex Caskey.

"We had chances, and right now the onus is on our guys to finish their chances," Schmid said. "It's a lot easier to play up 1-0 than it is to play down 1-0, and it seems like we've been perpetually down."

MLS teams are just 2-23-5 in Mexico in CCL, having been outscored 84-29. Santos is 6-0-1 against MLS teams at home with a 20-4 goal differential.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.

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