BY JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE, Wash. - The last time the Seattle Sounders took the pitch in CONCACAF Champions League, Santos Laguna handed them one of the worst losses in franchise history. Both the opponent and score were far different Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
Sammy Ochoa, Fredy Montero, and Andy Rose all scored first-half goals to lead the Sounders to a 3-0 victory against Caledonia AIA of Trinidad. Rose also assisted on both Montero's and Ochoa's goals.
The victory puts the Sounders in the early driver's seat in Group 4 of 2012-2013 tournament. The teams will face each other again on Aug. 20 in Trinidad. Honduran club CD Marathon, the third team in the group, begins tournament play on Aug. 22 with a trip to Trinidad.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid fielded a mixed lineup featuring plenty of reserves, but also regulars such as Jeff Parke, Osvaldo Alonso, and Fredy Montero. Midfielder Brad Evans played out of position at right back and backup keeper Andrew Weber started for Michael Gspurning.
Caledonia, in its debut Champions League match, managed its lone goal on a penalty kick in the 50th minute, but could get no closer in a second-half the Sounders effectively killed.
Caledonia held strong early, but in the 20th minute Rose deftly one-touched a pass to Ochoa while being tackled by Caledonia defender Aubrey David. Ochoa, unmarked just inside the penalty spot, buried a shot in the back left corner of the net.
In the 30th minute, Rose found Montero alone on the back post to put the Sounders up 2-0. Rookie midfielder Cordell Cato, earning a spot start against a team from his native country, set up the score with a beautiful run from midfield into the penalty area before deftly dropping a well-weighted pass to Rose.
In the 43rd minute, both Rose and Ochoa found themselves in the keeper's box on the end of a deflected Fredy Montero shot. Rose was credited with the goal that put the Sounders up 3-0, although both players seemed to contact the ball.
Caledonia's best threat of the first half came on a counter off an ugly Alonso turnover at midfield. Only a diving save from Weber on Kareem Joseph's shot preserved the lead.
Caledonia looked like they might pull within a goal in the 70th minute, but a threatening shot from Trevin Cesar deflected off teammate Jamal Gay into the stands.