My 3 Thoughts on Pumas-Seattle
Lodeiro's 97th-Minute Penalty Gives Sounders a 2-2 Tie and the Advantage Heading Home in the CONCACAF Champions League Final
Seattle tied Pumas 2-2 in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final on Wednesday in Mexico City. The return leg takes place next Wednesday in Seattle. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
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• Nico Lodeiro’s 97th-minute penalty gave Seattle a tie that felt like a win. Salvadoran referee Iván Barton showed some massive cojones to go to his VAR screen and whistle a penalty near the death in front of a hostile Pumas crowd that would shower the field with projectiles and liquids, and Lodeiro converted his second penalty in 20 minutes to bring the Sounders back even after going down by two goals early in the second half. And somehow Seattle went from being in the danger zone of a two-goal deficit to having the advantage heading home in its quest to become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League in its league format and punch a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup. Pumas players were clearly angry over the last penalty call, but the video replay showed that Cristian Roldán had suffered a foul in the box. Lodeiro, who’d yapped back and forth with keeper Alfredo Talavera on his first penalty, disregarded Talavera’s off-center positioning in much the same way that Virgil van Dijk did with Kepa Arrizabalaga in the League Cup final shootout, and the Uruguayan drilled his penalty to bring Seattle all the way back.
• The 2-2 result was deserved. It wouldn’t have felt unfair if Seattle had gotten out with a 2-1 loss, but even though both Sounders goals came on penalties (compared to the one spot kick for Pumas), the play overall was pretty even on both sides. Juan Dinenno, Pumas’ main goal-scoring threat who ended up starting despite a calf issue, had both goals for the hosts. The first came after a soft penalty and the second on a well-executed header after 19-year-old right back Jesús Rivas (a sub for the injured Alan Mozo) hit a marvelous cross with zero pressure on the delivery. But after that 48th-minute goal, Seattle controlled possession for the majority of the second half and started creating some danger. Raúl Ruidíaz did good work in the box to earn the first penalty on Sebastián Saucedo’s handball, and after an interminable VAR review checked on a potential Seattle foul in the box before that, the call ended up standing and Lodeiro just barely converted past Talavera (who got a hand on it).
• Roldán really is becoming a player for these moments. The 26-year-old midfielder was a magnet for Pumas fouls the entire game, spent a significant amount of time rolling in pain on the field and had every right to complain to Bartón about being targeted by the opposing team. But Roldán kept doing his thing, and his constant work was rewarded with the play of the game as he earned the penalty that may have swung this tie in Seattle’s favor. There’s a reason that Roldán keeps being called into the U.S. men’s national team, and it’s that he has become a classic glue guy, the type of player you need in your squad, a combination of terrific soccer smarts, unceasing effort and a winning mentality. In the biggest game of his club career (at least until next Wednesday), Roldán showed all those things and had it pay off for him and for Seattle. The Sounders have every chance to make history next week in front of their home fans, and they can give a huge thank you to Roldán and his teammates for erasing a two-goal, second-half deficit on Wednesday in Mexico.
What are your thoughts on the game? You can join the discussion in the comments below.
No era penal. I’m a Sounders fan and I was in a Sounders bar and the emotions we went through on that last call, well, that was something. But on the second penalty, and even a little bit on the first, I would have been bitching so much if those calls were against my team instead of for it.
Found it interesting I can bet on agentinian sexond division soccer but couldn’t bet on this game on fan duel. Shows Concacaf champions league doesn’t register