2012 Oct 24

Sounders sweep the CCL group round matches

Seattle Sounders FC  3 - 1  CD Marathon

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

23' SEA: Sammy Ochoa (Mario Martinez)
27' SEA: Steve Zakuani (Jeff Parke)

37' MAR: Mitchel Brown (Marco Tulio Vega, Mauricio Sabillón)
76' SEA: David Estrada

Seattle: Marcus Hahnemann; Mike Seamon, Jeff Parke (Marc Burch 46'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott; Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Alex Caskey 67'), Steve Zakuani (Cordell Cato 78'); David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa.
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans, Fredy Montero.

Marathon: José Mendoza; Mauricio Sabillón (Wilmer Fuentes 79'), Quiarol Arzu, Luis Castro, Mario René Berríos; David Meza, Mariano Acevedo (Alexander Aguilar 73'), Reinieri Mayorquin, Christian Altamirano; Marco Tulio Vega (Randy Diamond 65'), Mitchel Brown.
Substitutes not used: Shane Orio.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC finished the group round of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League with a perfect 4-0-0 record after winning at home 3-1 over CD Marathon of Honduras. The record gives the Sounders a top four seed for the quarterfinals, which will be held next spring.

With Marathon already eliminated from advancing and the Sounders already guaranteed to advance, both teams rested a lot of regular starters. In goal for Seattle was newcomer Marcus Hahnemann, who played his first match for the Sounders since the 1996 A-League Championship Match, in which Hahnemann earned a shutout.

Early shots for Seattle were taken by David Estrada, on an opening-minute gift from a defender, and Sammy Ochoa, who just beat a defender to a Steve Zakuani cross. The first was an easy save and the second went wide.

The early shot for Marathon was David Meza's 35-yard bouncer that was easily saved.

23' SEA: Ochoa (Martinez). Seattle opened their account midway in the first half when right back Mike Seamon was well forward on the right to take a pass and hold it. He dished it to Mario Martinez on the overlap, and Martinez served a nice cross that was dummied by Estrada out from the near post and hammered in by Ochoa out from the far post. 1-0 Seattle. Ochoa has scored in each of the four group round matches.

A Seamon cross soon gave Martinez a good chance aimed at the lower far corner, and goalkeeper José Mendoza dove to push it away. Within a minute, though, Seattle bagged another goal.

27' SEA: Zakuani (Parke). From the halfway line, center back Jeff Parke played a perfect through ball for Steve Zakuani, who beat the offside trap with a timed run up the middle. Zakuani took the ball into the penalty area, left defender Luis Castro on the floor with a cutback move, and beat Mendoza with a shot to the near side. 2-0 Seattle.

Seattle defender Zach Scott, playing his old USL Sounders position as left back, nearly made it three when his flick-on header from Martinez' corner kick flashed an inch wide of the far post.

37' MAR: Brown (Vega, Sabillón). On a Marathon attack, Mauricio Sabillón played a nice ball into the penalty area for Marco Tulio Vega, who beat his marker with a turn towards goal. Vega rolled a cross in front of goal out of reach of the charging Hahnemann and Mitchel Brown was ahead of his marker for an easy tap in. 2-1 Seattle.

Seattle's Martinez had the last chances of the first half, a bit off target with a 30-yard curling free kick and way over from a 25-yard shot on the run.

Seattle made a pre-planned substitution at halftime, bringing Marc Burch on as left back in place of Parke, with Scott moving to central defender. Parke and Burch had played the full 90 three days earlier.

The first 20 minutes of the second half produced only a few soft shots. Then substitute Randy Diamond got into the penalty area and when he lost the ball it set up Brown for a hard blast that Hahnemann amazingly saved without giving up a rebound.

Ochoa had a chance for a second goal when he trapped, then shot from a Martinez feed, but Mendoza had the shot covered.

76' SEA: Estrada. After a Marathon turnover in midfield, Martinez was open on the left touch line for a pass and he crossed the ball to Estrada near goal. Estrada played the ball towards goal and defender Castro tried to clear it, but the ball rolled free for Estrada's open shot and he roofed it.

3-1 Seattle.

Ochoa had one last chance from 20 yards off an Estrada feed and his shot dipped to skim the top of the crossbar.

Marathon fought to the end, forcing Hahnemann to make a pair of saves in the final few minutes on shots from Diamond and Meza. Then Hahnemann had to slide out to win a through ball just before Diamond could reach it.

The Champions League soon goes dark for the winter, resuming in March with a quarterfinal home and away series with an opponent to be determined by a draw.

          SEA   MAR
Shots:     15    11
Saves:      6     3
Corners:    7     3
Fouls:     12    10
Offsides:   0     4

23' MAR: Berríos cautioned for dissent after the opening goal
40' MAR: Arzu cautioned for dissent before a Seattle corner kick
83' MAR: Brown cautioned for tripping Caskey from behind

Referees: Ricardo Arellano (Mexico); Juan Rangel, Salvador Rodriguez; Miguel Rodriguez

Attendance: 7,874

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the game: "Obviously we're happy with the win. We're happy to have gone through our group play undefeated. It was a good situation tonight in terms of that we were able to play a lot of players. We wanted to stay somewhat solid in the back, and with the injuries that we have in back we decided we could get 45 minutes out of Parke and 45 minutes out of Burch, and share that responsibility a little bit. I think that helped us, as well, tonight, so I'm proud and pleased and happy that we won the group and put ourselves into the top four seedings."

On the play of Marcus Hahnemann: "I thought Marcus played well. I know with about 15 minutes to go I turned to Tommy Dutra and said, 'That's not a bad backup goalkeeper. That's pretty good.' So it's something that you could see his experience, you could see him talking to the players in front of him. Those are things that you only get through years of playing and the confidence that he has in himself. I know he was unhappy he said with his kicking, his sharpness at certain times -- that's that final game phase that you get into. Certainly, I don't think, with Marcus now in shape, there's a team in the league with two better goalkeepers than Gspurning and Hahnemann. That's something that makes you feel really good as a coach and I know the team has a lot of confidence in them."

On the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals: "You've got three MLS teams moving on. You've got three, possibly four, Mexican teams moving on. Well that takes care of seven of the eight, so it's maybe only one team that's not either a US team or a Mexican team, so the chance that you're going to play either an American team or a Mexican team is great. Playing a team from Mexico, at least we're away first and home second, which is a plus, and we're avoiding for sure the big two that have done very well in the last couple years in this competition -- Monterrey especially. All we can control is our own destiny, and then the rest is up to them. Chivas still needs to work to get in there -- they need to win tomorrow night to get in -- and we'll see what happens in the Galaxy game, then that will determine who we play."

On the play of Sammy Ochoa: "He got a good goal. I think he's been sharper at times than he was tonight a little bit. He scored a good goal, it was a good combination -- unusual maybe to see Mario hitting a right-footed cross that he got in. He got in there, he got good position, and he finished it well. I think that's his fourth goal, so I think he's got to be near the top of goal scorers right now in Champions League, so he's going to want to play in the other Champions League games."

On Ochoa's success in Champions League: "It was a good opportunity for him to get back out there and play. Having played in Mexico for those years, for him to do well in this competition I'm sure that's something he's very proud of because he knows the people he played with and the teams he played with notice and keep track of this competition."

On the team's performance in Champions League group stage: "I read Brad saying something in an article saying every year we learn from the year past. I think the team's gotten more mature, a little more cold-blooded at times, at the right times. We did a good job last year in terms of our away games, making sure we got points there, we continued to do that this year. I just think the team has done a better job managing the games than they have in years past."

On Steve Zakuani getting knocked in the second half: "I think he just got kicked. Kicked in a similar spot, but he's fine. For him that's probably a very positive thing, a very good thing, to know you can go in and get kicked in that spot and take a tackle and you're fine. From that standpoint it was good. He scored a goal. At first I thought he might have been offside -- I haven't seen the replay so I don't know if he was or not, but he certainly took his goal well. He got the goalkeeper leaning the other way and then beat him near post."

On succeeding past the group stage: "Every time we play in anything we certainly want to do better than we've done in the past. In the first year, we couldn't get out of our group. In the second year, we got out of our group and we lost in the quarterfinals. This year, we want to go further than we did last year. We want to gain and learn from all the experiences as we go through it. From my standpoint, I think obviously, MLS Cup is still preeminent in our mind, and doing well in playoffs is the most important near-term goal for us, but as we look already into next season, going into the semifinals in the Champions League is something we want to achieve -- and getting to the finals. It's been a long time since a team from the US has won that, and if we can be that team, that's something we'd be very proud of."

On the play of Mario Martinez: "I thought Mario did well. It's been difficult for him -- I know the articles earlier this week -- it's been difficult with him because as he's been in and out of our training so much between his trips with the national team. I think there's only like a six-day period where he's trained in a row for us, but we wanted him to get back to the national team, as well, so he could get games. We wanted to make sure he continued to get playing time, so tonight was a great opportunity for him to get playing time with our team, and obviously there's going to be another opportunity for him to play on Sunday. He's a clever player, he's a good passer, he generally involves himself in goal-dangerous situations. He picked up an assist today, he picked up an assist when we played down in Marathon, and I know he'd like to have a couple of his shots back and hit them again. He's got such a good shot that when he gets that opportunity he's going to try and make use of it. I was happy with his play."

On the side Marathon put on the field: "They brought a lot of their regulars. I think seven of the starting 11 played against us, something like that. Anytime a player steps on the field he's got pride and he's going to give what he has, and I thought the players played with that from Marathon. If anything, maybe a player, for example, like Berrios, their left fullback who usually goes forward at times and is really involved, he stayed at home a little bit and maybe that was a concession to, 'Okay, you're the left fullback today but don't tire yourself out for the next league game.' Maybe certain guys weren't as aggressive going forward, per se, as they would be normally because in the first game he was forward all time, took all their corners and that stuff. Outside of that, I thought the rest of the guys competed and played and they're going to play with pride all the time. They're in a battle right now in their league and they want to continue to do well there."

Marcus Hahnemann

On his impressions on his first game for the Sounders: "Well it's not my first game for the Sounders. It' been a long time. I think Frank MacDonald tweeted and said it's been 16 years, 18 days in between Sounders appearances which is a pretty big deal. You guys yesterday asked me when my last game was, and I had to sit and think about it. It's been a while as well. To really get back out there, and the training has been great and I've been getting sharper every day but to actually get out there on the field, it was awesome."

On if he felt like he played well or if he felt like there was some rust: "A little bit. I think my kicking could've been better, and my quad is about to fall off because haven't kicked that many balls. You know you can do everything you want in training, but that sort of stuff always gets you. My positioning I thought was pretty good ... There are always things you can improve on. There was one I caught and I could've just chested it down and wasted a little bit more time. I think I could throw the ball out a little more, which Sigi is going to probably give me an earful, but I'm not used to giving the ball out, I'm used to pumping it as far as I can. Everybody has got a learning curve, but I thought today was pretty good."

On how did the goal play out from his point of view: "Well I had the guy sneak through and it was a really good run for him, and then I had come out and he shanked out something, I don't know what it was, and it went right to their guy. I'm sure it was offside."

On the crowd: "It was 67,000 I thought today. That's what it felt like. It felt pretty good, it doesn't matter and you still have the ECS, I know there's not as many of them, but they are cheering the whole game and we can all hear that. It doesn't matter, it was an awesome experience."

On growing up in Seattle and seeing how the team has grown, does it make it any sweeter: "Yeah, I mean you're driving down the road and you see scarves in people's cars. Kids are walking around wearing Sounders shirts all over town, and not just kids, you see adults. I mean everybody has really taken to the team. The coverage from the news is all really good. We have highlights and all the games are on TV. The whole coverage and everything is better. When we play Portland there are 67,000 and it's just a league game. I know it's not just a league game because it's Portland, but still that sort of crowd is incredible. To be a part of that is truly remarkable that I actually got a chance because I thought I was all done and retired, and I was kind of happy with that, but I'm glad Sigi wanted me to come back."

CD Marathon

Manuel Keosseian - Head Coach

Opening statement: "First I'd like to salute the team for this league and for qualifying, going to the next round and what's coming next. About the match itself, it was very effective. They didn't come many times, but when they come they come, they were effective."

On the fact that this game didn't really have any meaning for them knowing that they were eliminated: "Yes that was a factor. We knew that we were already eliminated, but we wanted to play a very honorable game. On Sunday we have a very important game in the league for qualifying, but we're professionals and we wanted to play respectfully with intensity and we came here for that."

On if he left some of the players back for a reason: "Yes we knew that we had no chance to qualify here so we wanted to preserve some guys, they stayed behind training. We came here respectfully, but aware that we didn't have the chances to qualify and needed to think ahead about this local game that is worth qualification in the league."

On if it is difficult, how difficult is it to travel and play in the United States: "No. we've had opportunities like this and came abroad and won, and qualified a couple of times. But that was a different Marathon, a much stronger Marathon. Now we're in this transition, and there is not that same power as in the past."

Mario Berrios

On there being a local player from Honduras playing for the Sounders, was there any motivation for the team to come and play the Sounders: "Not really. The match was of no importance, but for us it was significant. It was significant preparation and we got good training for what's coming in the coming weekend."

On how different was it to play on a synthetic field: "It is complicated. We're not use to playing in pitches like this, but we managed to play a good game. It was well played. We knew that it was going to be a factor against us, but we played well and created some opportunities knowing that the opponent was going to have the advantage for being used to this kind of pitch."