By FRANCO PANIZO
The chances that an MLS club wins the CONCACAF Champions League this year diminished considerably after the Seattle Sounders crashed out of the tournament in embarrassing fashion.
Led by two goals from red-hot striker Herculez Gomez, Santos Laguna dismantled the Sounders, 6-1, in the second leg of the quarterfinals series on Tuesday night to advance to the semifinals on aggregate, 7-3.
A pair of early goals from the hosts and poor defending by the Sounders set the tone for the rout, as Cristian Suarez and Oribe Peralta took advantage of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado's poor marking to score in the opening ten minutes of the match played at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico.
Santos goalkeeper Osvaldo Sanchez kept Seattle from responding quickly with a pair of nice saves, but he could not stop Seattle from pulling level on aggregate off a headed finish by Alvaro Fernandez.
As close as the opening 45 minutes were, the second half proved to be entirely different. Gomez scored four minutes after the intermission and added another in the 68th minute before being substituted with an injury. Gomez, who was responsible for Santos' lone goal in the first leg, has now scored seven goals in his past five matches across all competitions.
With Seattle desperately trying to make up the difference on aggregate, Santos took advantage of more porous defending by scoring two goals to seal the win. Suarez scored his second of the game in the 76th minute and Carlos Ochoa capped things off with a finish five minutes later.
Santos will now play Toronto FC in the semifinals after the Canadian club defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in Tuesday's nightcap. The first leg of the semifinals will take place in Toronto between March 27-29 and the decisive game will occur in Mexico on April 3-5.
What do you think of Santos' big win over Seattle? Surprised by how shambolic the defending was by the Sounders? Think Toronto can knock off Santos Laguna in the semis?
Share your thoughts below.