Gomez goal sends Santos Laguna home with lead over Sounders in CCL semis

HercGomezSantos (JaneGPhotos)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG.Photography

By JASON MITCHELL

SEATTLE, Wash. – Herculez Gomez engaged in light-hearted banter with the Seattle Sounders for much of the week leading up to Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinals match. At one point the Sounders front office sent Gomez a pillow, per his request.

In the end, Gomez enjoyed the last laugh, scoring the lone goal in Santos Laguna’s 1-0 victory in front of 21,057 at CenturyLink Field.

Darwin Quintero unleashed a shot from the top of the penalty area in the 53rd minute, forcing Seattle goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann into a diving save. Gomez stepped into the deflection, burying a one-touch volley into the far corner of the net before Hahnemann could even get off the ground.

Gomez missed a chance to score on the counter in the 26th minute, sending a shot wide of the far post. The U.S. Men’s National Team regular had an unsuccessful trial with a lower-tier version of the Sounders nearly a decade ago, and heard the “Soun-ders Re-ject” chants from the crowd after that early miss.

“I love it,” said Gomez when asked about the chants. “Being called a Sounders’ reject, being called any kind of reject. It digs deep and it fuels fire. I didn’t have the easiest go of it at the beginning of my career, so any chance I can get to redeem myself is a good chance.”

Seattle, off to its worst start in franchise history in league play, had late opportunities but never capitalized.

In the 65th minute, forward Sammy Ochoa got free on the counter inside the penalty area, but—in a moment emblematic of the night—sent an open 12-yard shot several feet wide of the far post.

Mario Martinez found Zach Scott in the center of the area in the 86th minute, but the defender could only muster a soft header directly into the arms of Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez. It would be Seattle’s last decent chance to equalize.

Given the away-goals tie-breaker, the victory gives Santos Laguna a comfortable lead heading home to Torreon, Mexico, for the April 9 second leg. The last time Seattle visited Santo Laguna’s Estadio Corona, it suffered a franchise-worst 6-2 thumping in last year’s Champions League quarterfinals.

The winner of this series will face either the Los Angeles Galaxy or two-time defending CCL champion Monterrey in the two-leg final, scheduled for April 24 and May 1.

Seattle, in the tournament’s semifinals for the first time, controlled play for much of the first half but could never mount a serious threat. Head coach Sigi Schmid sat midfielders Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales, while forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins missed the match with injuries.

Without that quartet, the Sounders lacked the attacking threat to really test Santos Laguna’s defense, though they did play arguably their best match since beating Tigres in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Schmid, irate with his team over the weekend for its 0-3-1 start to the MLS season and its listless performance in a 2-1 loss on Saturday to Real Salt Lake, struck a slightly more positive tone after the loss.

“Obviously it’s a home game so you don’t want to lose your home game,” Schmid said.  “I thought we didn’t play that poorly, I thought we did alright. They’re a good team. Obviously they’re a very good team. Their front three are as dangerous a front three as you’re going to run into anywhere. They got in a few times, but I thought for the most part we held them at bay, which was good.”

Santos Laguna, winner of the 2012 Liga MX Clausura and a Champions League finalist last year, began to wrench the match in its favor around the half-hour mark, with Gomez, Rodolfo Salinas, and defender Osmar Mares all getting decent looks off the counter-attack.

It was a turning of the tide that eventually resulted in the rare goal for a USMNT player that deflated the hearts of at least some American fans. And the Sounders know the hurdle it leaves them.

“Obviously we were missing some people,” said Schmid. “So now we just have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. That’s not impossible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

For his part, Gomez was quick to note that Seattle fans seemed to keep the night in perspective.

“After the game, fans were pretty appreciative,” Gomez said. “They know that when 90 minutes are over I become a national team player again. They let me know how they felt, and that was pretty special.”

Here is Gomez’s first-leg winner:

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, Mexican Soccer, MLS- Seattle Sounders, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Gomez goal sends Santos Laguna home with lead over Sounders in CCL semis

  1. Steve says:

    Herc is an absolute terror in these champions league matches.

    • Mike V. says:

      Agreed. He certainly has an axe to grind with MLS clubs seeing as he was cast away. With that said, he’ll be the first to tell you that it took being told he was surplus to requirements in order to jump start his career. It was the best thing to happen to him. He’s very, very appreciative and respectful towards MLS but every opportunity he’s had to punish MLS he’s taken it. Rightfully so. Even though, I will always pull for MLS in the CL, it does put a smile on my face to see Herc playing so well. The man has had an incredible journey.

    • beachbum says:

      he sure is. could have scored a couple more last night. tremendous strike for the goal too

  2. Neruda says:

    Sounders are out of CCL. Sigi and the team can now focus on US Open Cup.
    LAG is the leagues last hope in this years CCL competition.

  3. AzTeXan says:

    KCUF Seattle, this is why we can’t have nice things.

  4. el paso tx wants nasl says:

    sigi has a big year ahead of him and I think if seattle doesn’t win nothing,he will be out

  5. Bobb says:

    Sounders reject? What a joke of a self-obsessed fanbase… meanwhile they make cult heroes out of nobodies like Mike Fucito and Roger Levesque (not sure I spelled that right as he never did jack s at any level that mattered)…

    • Neruda says:

      Better to have a fan base that is at least obsessed with the game and their team than the meager fan support around the league at different teams. Problem with Seattle is the team is not on level this year with their rabid fans.

      Herc wasn’t going to miss twice and is thanking Sounders fans for the motivational chant.

    • kelso says:

      Clearly they’re one of the best fan bases, if not the best, in the country.

      • Shane says:

        Nah, they are too cultish, too militant. Remind me of Nazi soldiers. I’ll take the Timbers Army ADOTW

        • AzTeXan says:

          A sample of tweets by @timbersarmy last night:

          “Herculez Herculez Herculez! Stop in PDX after the game @herculezg so we can buy you a beer.”

          “Many congratulations to @herculezg and Santos Laguna tonight!”

          I suppose when it comes to the advancement of American soccer and MLS, Portland supporters still can’t bring themselves to support the Sounders, even though their club can’t even finish in the top half of the table.

          • beachbum says:

            yikes, that sucks. I’m a Galaxy fan, cannot stand the Sounders…unless they’re representing MLS! then I’m all for them of course. those tweeets suck

          • ld says:

            why would a Timbers fan cheer on the Sounders in anything? because they play in the same league? What a stupid reason

          • Marco says:

            PDX haters tune in to watch the Sounders..?

            I wouldn’t waste my time watching them

        • Jerrod says:

          They remind you of Nazi soldiers, really?

      • Shane says:

        My favorite Nat doing us proud.

      • solles says:

        maybe, until the fad passes…

      • killerInstinct says:

        maybe that great fan base needs to be a little bit more critical of their own team and show that they’re not happy with the performance
        ..after all they are representing the MLS

  6. Sergio of SF says:

    That was nasty, Don’t see Seattle doing it in Monterey

    • NC Jeff says:

      Torreon is over 200 mi from Monterey, so they won’t have to … at least until a possible Finals matchup. Realizing you really meant Torreon, I wouldn’t totally write off SS just yet … a 2-1 away win is NOT impossible … unlikely yes, but not impossible.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I am a graduate student at George Washington University and an avid soccer fan-I have combined the two interests to compile a soccer survey and I am trying to find ways to get the word out.

    It is just 27 questions (it should be quick – say 10 minutes) – any suggestions?

    Here is the link: link to surveymonkey.com

  8. the original jb says:

    Why did Sigi sit his best players again!? I mean I thought MLS rearranged their schedules so their teams can make a real go for CCL! Seattle had to have this win, they are toast now. Guess it’s up to the Galaxy, hopefully Bruce will play Donovan and Keane.

    Sic volley by Herc.

    • DC Josh says:

      +1 on Sigi’s starting XI and Gomez’s goal. His volley singed any stubble left on Hahnemann’s dome.

    • Charles says:

      Injuries

      • Vic says:

        Thats only true of Johnson and Martins. Sigi was trying to teach Rosales and Zakuani a lesson. However, Sigi is the one who needed a lesson. Hopefully he learned it.

        • Gnarls says:

          Teach them a lesson? Seriously? What a moron Sigi is.

        • SteveE says:

          Rosales could still have a somewhat back issue and is treating with kid gloves. Zak, a bit of punishment. Burch and JKH was flat out punishment for the crap they put out. I like the sending of a message, but not in the biggest game of the year.

  9. David says:

    Seattle played a good away game missing about half a starting eleven. Too bad they were at home and suffered from really poor delivery on corner kicks, the only stat that favored them. Sigi waited way too long to bring on attacking subs. Zakuani had no impact. Rosales at least hit two decent corners that cause a couple of minor scrambles. Defensively they did OK. Gomez’s finish on the goal was ruthless. Even with the return of the regulars, there’s little hope that they can overturn this result.

  10. ChiTown says:

    Chanting “Sounders reject” at one of the top scorers in the region seems… dumb. I can’t think of a good analogy, so I’m using Cleveland and LeBron as an example. Can you imagine if they chanted that at him?

    Maroons I tell ya.

    • Mike V. says:

      They did (and probably still do) chant / yell at LeBron in Cleveland and what they say is much, much worse than chanting “reject”. Trust me. I went to a Cavs – Heat game in Cleveland last year and was totally embarrassed and put-off by the Cleveland fans towards LeBron and I have no association to either team!!

    • Hoggan says:

      Yes, that was just dumb. Nothing else you can say about it. I will say this, 90% of those fans had no knowledge of the Sounders or Herc when he played there. They will deny it but its like everyone over 60 saying they were at Woodstock. So while the fans come out in great numbers, their claims to having a great knowledge base and sense of their club’s “history” (which tends to have many revisionist elements), sometimes leads to them collectively doing or saying really stupid things. They do love their team though.

    • travis says:

      poor analogy. Cleveland didn’t refuse to resign Lebron.

    • solles says:

      yeah im sure the flounders who’ve been going to games for 3 years were giddy when they saw on wikipedia that Herc had played in Seattle once upon a time… “guess what we get to chant? tehehehe”

  11. rainORshine says:

    cant quite figure out why some folks – like klinsy and ives think herc is well-placed as a wide mid in a 4-4-2 (4-4-1-1)…

    has become a star with consistent clinical finishing inside 18

    in herc plays for JK has to part of a front 3

    ————-*altidore———-
    -dempsey————gomez-

    * or boyd

  12. Charles says:

    As someone that was at the game and not just flying off the handle hoping they can be correct in their irrational hatred of a fanbase…..the fans there all cheered and clapped for Gomez when he was introduced.

    There has been running jokes between the ex-Sounder and Seattle. Chanting Sounder’s reject is just part of that.

    • Mig says:

      Exactly! Gomez takes all the bashing in stride (as long as it isn’t horrible stuff like some tweeters perpetrate) and the fans SHOULD chant stuff at him….he is a menace at this point.

      No need for the vitriol though and it was classy of the Sounders fans to applaud him after the game.

    • ChiTown says:

      Is he in on the joke?

      Because he said after the game that it added fuel to his fire to push him harder when he heard them calling him a reject. I don’t think he thinks that was a “joke.”

      • Mig says:

        ChiTown:
        Oh he knows that it’s just banter…but that of course makes him want to shut them up. I guess my point is that to sensible fans and to realistic players, they know it is all a game, it is sport, and it shouldn’t be taken as anything more than that. That’s my take on it, at least.

    • Marco says:

      shhhhhhh,, The horde here was just about to lynch the entire Sounders fanbase.

    • beachbum says:

      the joke’s on whom?

    • SteveE says:

      Exactly. People see it as us hating him, if you saw all the twitter banter with him and the Sounders, it was hilarious. He is having fun with us, EJ, ownership. Go through all the banter, he loves it and the fans were great to him. He tweeted last night “On a serious note, Seattle fans are pretty classy. Much appreciated applause on my way out of the tunnel. Very proud to represent! #USMNT”

  13. Albertson says:

    That was quite a finish by Herc. Sort of a FU, Seattle.

  14. Travis says:

    Frustrating game to think what if for the Sounders, there were a couple times Ochoa got into dangerous spots but he just doesn’t have the class that is needed at this level. I am thinking in particular of the one on one from a tight angle when he sent his shot out for a throw in. Thought Seattle actually performed well but didn’t really create great chances.

    • Travis says:

      Alright seriously why did this comment get stuck in moderation? I would like to know the logic behind this so I can avoid it, any ideas?

      • stpauljosh says:

        The offender rarely knows he’s offending.

        j/k maybe a mod hadn’t had their coffee yet… or they just really, really hate your analysis.

        • Travis says:

          Most of the time it happens I can usually figure out what word may have triggered it but I said nothing even remotely offensive there.

          • Ives Galarcep says:

            Travis, sometimes there are comments stuck in moderation that I can’t figure out why they’re stuck. We’ve tried to clear the decks for people to be able to comment and for the most part it’s pretty good about stopping the right comments. Sometimes it still catches random ones for no clear reason. Sometimes it can be a bad word buried among regular words. Like perhaps it reads “class” and sees the last three letters and thinks you’re trying to sneak a bad word in. I don’t know that to be a fact, but in past versions of comment moderation software that has happened.

            Lastly, if your comment is stuck in moderation it hasn’t been placed there by an actual human moderator. Generally speaking if a human SBI moderator takes issue with a comment it’s going to get deleted, and in some cases, the commenter will be banned.

  15. JD in FL says:

    For an attacking player, Herc sure puts in the defensive work, too. I wish all of the attackers for the USMNT had the same kind of tenacity.

  16. Jason says:

    Great goal! I’m a huge fan of Americans playing abroad and seeing Gomez w/ the goal is icing on the cake. I feel bad for the more passionate MLS fans that support clubs that arent properly formated financially for their high level of support.

  17. Jason says:

    Great goal. I’m a huge fan of Americans playing abroad and seeing Gomez with the goal is icing on the cake. I feel bad for the more passionate MLS fans that support clubs that arent properly formated financially for their high level of support. Sorry it came against an MLS team, but I don’t feel obligated to support an MLS squad in international play just ’cause they are domestic (vs my passion for watching nats abroad).

    • Travis says:

      The last part of your statement makes me sad. One of the best ways for the MLS and thus USMNT to improve is to do well on international stages and the CL counts as just that. I will support any MLS team in the CL, other than Portland. It is for the better of the league that our teams perform well in this competition

    • stpauljosh says:

      Will you change your mind some day when the USMNT starts team with all current or former MLS players in their most difficult match for WC qualifying?

    • Lost in Space says:

      I may be in the minority here….but I don’t really consider players in Mexico as being “Abroad”. The style may be different than MLS (more technical, attack minded, etc) but overall the level of compitition is not that much different. Mexico’s top team may be better than MLS’s top team….but overall they are comparable and getting closer each year.
      Being happy that a USNT player scored an important goal in a CCL match doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be sorry that an MLS team lost.

  18. a says:

    Seattle nothing but hype. Cant play with the big boys. Come on Galaxy lets do this.

  19. OB Rick says:

    As an American I was pulling for the Sounders, but as an American I felt if the Sounders lost I wanted it to be because of Gomez.

  20. Gary Page says:

    All of these comments, and almost nothing about the game itself. You take the two best strikers from any team and you get what we saw last night from Seattle–a lack of finishing. One thing that I thought was encouraging was that for some major stretches of the game, there was little difference in technical ability between the two teams. Seattle seemed to falter when they got too rushed because of the pressure of not scoring. Still, it is a far cry from a few years ago when Mexican teams could literally run circles around MLS teams. When you consider the Seattle lineup, they should be doing a lot better. Perhaps it is complacency, but with the players they have added, they should be a top team. Despite the Sigi bashing here, he is a good coach, one of only a couple to win championships at two different clubs. I will guess that by the end of the season, nobody will want to play them.

    • Vic says:

      So we can’t criticize a coaches moves/players selection because he’s done well in the past?

  21. MiamiAl says:

    Gotta love The Herc!!! The guy is all heart! He has always been underestimated. But I still think his best role on the USMNT is to come off the bench as a super sub who can get us that sneaky goal when opposing defenses are tired.

  22. MB says:

    Game was over before it even started with that pathetic starting line-up for the Sounders. I understand no Johnson or Martins up top because of injury, but no Zakuani or Rosales out wide? Starting Shalrie Joseph against Santos in this huge game in his first game back? Not the right move. Sigi needs to take all the blame for this loss. Easy decision on the starting lineup for this game. Ochoa and Martinez up top. Zakuani, Evans, Alonso, Rosales across the midfield. No Zach Scott in the back 4. Simple as that.

  23. Riggity says:

    Can we get Gomez to wear Herculez on the back of his national team jersey????