By JASON MITCHELL
For more than 70 minutes Wednesday night it looked like the Seattle Sounders, despite being considerably outplayed by Tigres UANL for much of the match, were going to escape Mexico with a scoreless draw.
But after repeatedly playing with fire at Estadio Universitario, the Sounders were finally burned in the 73rd minute and eventually lost 1-0 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning made a diving save on a Lucas Lobos shot from point-blank range, but was helpless to stop a second attempt from late substitute Alan Pulido off the deflection.
Both Tigres players were behind a Seattle back line begging for an offside call that never came.
Seattle forward Lamar Neagle, a late substitute, managed a close-range flick in the 82nd minute, but couldn’t beat goalkeeper Enrique Palos to equalize.
The series now heads to the Pacific Northwest, with the second leg scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The winner of the series will face either Santos Laguna or the Houston Dynamo.
Thousands of miles from home, fielding a makeshift lineup, and just beginning their MLS season, the Sounders found themselves facing an in-form opponent currently leading Liga MX.
From the game’s opening moments, Tigres pressed a discombobulated Seattle defense and peppered goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with shots from both near and far.
But with leading scorer Emanuel Villa sidelined with injury, the Monterrey side failed to capitalize on its many chances, often missing the frame and rarely giving Gspurning a true test.
In just the third minute, an Alberto Acosta cross found Lobos far post. Lobos got around Gspurning inside the six-yard box and seemed sure to score, but Leo Gonzalez managed to clear the line.
Just 10 minutes later, Acosta found Luis Garcia in the middle of the penalty area, but Gspurning managed to get a glove on the shot and send it over the crossbar.
In the 37th minute, Garcia got on the end of a deflected pass inside the six-yard box, but sent it just wide of the left post.
In the first half alone, Tigres racked up 7 shots and owned 63 percent of possession, while the Sounders managed neither a shot nor a corner kick.
Will Seattle have a chance to turn the tables in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field? Will Tigres regret not converting more of its many chances, especially since Seattle gets to rest this weekend while Tigres has a Liga MX match?
Share your thoughts below.