MLS Soccer

Sounders beats Vancouver to reach CONCACAF quarterfinals

Vancouver Whitecaps defender Diego Rodriguez, left, gets a hand to the face from Seattle Sounders defender Oniel Fisher during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League match Wednesday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Vancouver Whitecaps defender Diego Rodriguez, left, gets a hand to the face from Seattle Sounders defender Oniel Fisher during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League match Wednesday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The Associated Press

The Seattle Sounders survived the Group of Death.

That was the title applied in June when the CONCACAF Champions League clustered the Sounders, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Olimpia of Honduras in Group F — the only group with two teams from Major League Soccer.

However, the Sounders took the group with a 3-0 victory over the Whitecaps on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field and will advance to the quarterfinals when knockout play begins next year.

The Sounders came into the match knowing that a win would send them through, but that any other result would eliminate them.

After a scoreless first 30 minutes, Seattle broke things open with three goals over a 15-minute span.

Lamar Neagle opened the scoring from close range in the 32nd minute, assisted by Chad Barrett. Seven minutes later, Nelson Valdez headed in a free kick by Marco Pappa. In the 47th minute, the Barrett-to-Neagle combination struck again.

Given the stakes, coach Sigi Schmid went with a mixed lineup, exemplified by the forward spot, where designated player Valdez started alongside Barrett. The back line was mostly starters: Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall and Leo Gonzalez. The midfield was a mix again: Pappa and Neagle flanking Erik Friberg and Cristian Roldan.

That lineup returned four starters from the one that took a 3-0 MLS win at Vancouver on Saturday, along with two other players who came off the bench in that game. Vancouver repeated only one starter — defender Pa-Modou Kah — in sending out a lineup with an average age of 24.4. The Sounders’ starters’ average age was 29.2.

Seattle ended group play 2-1-1. Vancouver is 1-1-1 and Olimpia 1-2 heading into their now-meaningless final match Oct. 22 in Honduras.

The Sounders return to training Thursday to begin preparations for their 2 p.m. Sunday MLS match at Sporting Kansas City. SKC trails Seattle by one point in the Western Conference standings after a 1-0 loss at Houston on Wednesday.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

@donruiztnt

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