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Sounders Steal Draw With 2 Late Penalties In Champions League Final First Leg

The Seattle Sounders were not at their best in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League final, but the MLS side did just enough to eke out a massive 2-2 draw with Pumas on Wednesday night in Mexico City. 

In a match in which neither side played particularly well — a downpour at the start of the match played a part in that — Nico Lodeiro smashed two late penalty kicks past Mexico international keeper Alfredo Talavera to cancel out two goals from Juan Ignacio Dinenno. The result sets up an enthralling second leg in Seattle on Wednesday, May 4. 

The away goals rule is not in effect for the Concacaf Champions League final as it was in prior rounds, leaving it all to play for at what will be a rocking Lumen Field in a week’s time. Seattle is attempting to become the first MLS side to win the Concacaf Champions League in its current format. (Two MLS teams won the tournament’s predecessor, the Champions Cup.)

Of course a Concacaf tournament is going to be full of drama, and Wednesday night was no different, with great goals and, of course, controversy. 

Pumas vs. Sounders First Leg Highlights

Perhaps feeling at home in the rain, the Sounders started well. As the rain subsided, so did Seattle for a while. 

Pumas put the Sounders behind for the first time in the CCL this year via a controversial penalty kick in the 38th minute. Some felt the call was a bit soft, but the play was too close for the VAR to overturn the decision.

Stefan Frei saved Dinenno’s first attempt, but the VAR caught him leaving his line early, giving Dinenno a second chance he didn’t waste. 

Dinenno was on the scoresheet again — for a ninth time this tournament — with one of the prettiest headers you’ll see all year three minutes into the second half. The cross was sent in by Jesús Rivas, who had come on for the injured Alan Mozo just before halftime. 

The Sounders, who scored three goals in the first legs of the last two rounds, were able to regroup and get on the scoreboard through another controversial penalty. This time, there was no doubt of a hand ball in the box, the question was if there was a Sounders foul in the buildup. The referee went to the monitor but stuck with his original call.

Despite some theatrics from Talavera, Lodeiro squeezed his shot just inside the right post to give Seattle new life in the 77th minute.

It looked like the Sounders would be happy with a 2-1 defeat heading home, but late in stoppage time the VAR called the referee over for yet another penalty decision. Once again, the ruling was a Seattle PK.

Talavera again pretended he was going to his right before diving left, but again Lodeiro beat the Mexican to the keeper’s left to steal a draw for the road team in the 99th minute.

Seattle will feel fortunate to escape with a draw given the circumstances, though it wasn’t entirely undeserved. Both teams will hope for a better performance in the second leg next week.

Fortunately for the Sounders, their MLS game this week was postponed, giving them extra rest not afforded Pumas, who play Pachuca on Sunday. 

If Seattle fans are looking for a reason to dream, they can take heart in knowing the last time a Liga MX club didn’t win Concacaf’s top club competition, Pumas was on the losing side (to Costa Rica’s Saprissa). Oh, and Higor Meritão may have jinxed UNAM. 

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