By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Seattle Sounders hung around for a almost a half amid the rain and humidity of San Jose, Costa Rica, but their defense broke down and their only regular starter in the back was red-carded, in front of his hometown fans, no less.
The Sounders lost to Deportivo Saprissa 2-0 Tuesday night in their third CONCACAF Champions League group match, and with three losses in those games, Seattle has virtually no shot at moving on in this tournament.
The Sounders are in the toughest group in CCL and they've showed at times that they can play with Saprissa, Monterrey and Marathon. A few breaks the other way, a couple of converted chances, and maybe the Sounders have a couple of points at this point. But they don't.
Tough break for Leo Gonzalez, the Costa Rican (Tico) defender who drew a straight red for failing to keep his boots down on a tackle and spiking Saprissa's Jairo Aurrieta. Gonzalez was lost in the 38th minute.
The Sounders, playing with 10 men, also had a chance to draw even at 1 in the 68th minute after Fredy Montero drew a PK. But Osvaldo Alonso must have been psyched out watching Fausto "El Golero Loco" Gonzalez dancing from side to side before the shot, and Gonzalez dived to his right to block Alonso's try.
No more excuses now. The Sounders now must decide how they want to approach the last three CCL group matches. It stands to reason that the reserves will be the ones who determine just how many points the Sounders come way with when group play is over.
Some say roster sizes should be increased for MLS teams, so that those who have to play a lot of CCL matches and/or SuperLiga have depth from which to pull players for those matches without exhausting their regulars. In the Sounders' case, however, they spent the first three matches in CCL trying to win a point, and now that it hasn't happened, they have several backups who don't play much who can now get their shot at real competition.
The Sounders used some of those players Tuesday night — Tyson Wahl, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham (who played pretty well), Roger Levesque, backup goalkeeper Terry Boss and Mike Fucito. Add a couple more youngsters to that mix for the remaining CCL games, and Sigi Schmid has close to a full squad of non-regulars at his disposal.