Seattle Sounders FC put in a complete performance against Chivas de Guadalajara as they thrilled the home crowd with a 1-0 win. Both sides played aggressively and the game became an end-to-end affair for much of the second half. A strong defensive performance from Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei helped Seattle keep a clean sheet while it was Clint Dempsey who would score the winner in the 78th minute.
Chivas opened the match with intense pressure on the ball, forcing Seattle into mistakes early on. Eleven minutes into the match Alejandro Mayorga slipped into the box in front of the Seattle defense to register the first shot of the match. Stefan Frei had to make himself big to make the save and then paw away the rebound and keep a clean sheet.
In the 33rd minute a slip by Roman Torres gave Alan Pulido a one-on-one opportunity versus Frei and it looked like Chivas would take the lead. Pulido’s final touch was too strong and allowed Frei enough time to close down on the ball an deny Pulido from finding the net.
Seattle seemed to wake up after the Pulido chance as they began to gain more possession and create chances although the chances were further from goal and didn’t trouble keeper Rodolfo Cota.
The second half seemed the exact opposite as Seattle came out as the team pressuring the ball and forcing the issue looking to take the match in their control. Seattle did well to cut down passing lanes and frustrate Guadalajara when in possession to force turnovers. They attacked Chivas down the wings, stretching the defence and creating gaps in the box that would eventually give them the opening goal.
Henry Wingo came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute for Handwalla Bwana, who had an impressive performance in his first start, and made an immediate impact on the wing. Wingo was able to consistently get dangerous balls into the box from out wide and pick out players in open space. In the 78th minute Wingo makes a run towards the corner flag into space and receives a pass from Jordan McCrary. He lets the ball run until about five yards from the endline before whipping in a low cross right in between four Guadalajara players to the feet of Dempsey for a first-time strike past Cota.
Through much of the second half, Guadalajara left space open around the top of the box and were beat to crosses as Sounders began to take control of the match. Dempsey had two other chances that looked similar to the play he was able to score on, where a cross from a wide area pulled Chivas out of position and allowed Seattle to find Dempsey for a scoring opportunity. The third of these chances came in the 82nd minute and it looked as though Dempsey would have a wide open goal to target but his shot was skied over the bar.
Seattle will hope the missed opportunities do not come back to haunt them in the second leg as they travel to Guadalajara Wednesday March 14th looking for a result that will send them to the CCL semifinals for the second time in club history.