BY DON RUIZ SEATTLE – There were mariachi bands and two national anthems, and almost as many fans wearing the red and white jerseys of Chivas Guadalajara as of hometown Sounders FC.
Once the pregame pageantry ended Tuesday night at Qwest Field one of the best-supported soccer clubs in the United States beat one of the most popular clubs of Mexico, 3-1, before a crowd of 41,047.
Seattle controlled from the start and moved ahead in the fifth minute, when Michael Fucito steamed through the penalty area, took a pass from Roger Levesque and slammed it off the left post and into the goal.
That combination was involved again in the 18th minute, as Seattle pushed its lead to 2-0. This time Fucito sent a ball wide to Levesque, who sent it back into the area, where Nate Jaqua headed it in past Goats goalkeeper Luis Michel.
Chivas halved the lead in the 70th minute on a goal by Marco Fabian. However, the Goats’ chances of equalizing were made more difficult a few minutes later when defender Juan Ocampo was sent off with a straight red card after a spikes-up challenge on Michael Seamon.
The Sounders put it away in the 90th minute, when Sanna Nyassi put in the rebound of a long shot by Fredy Montero.
Both players involved in the final goal both had come on as subs, after each team had started with largely reserve lineups.
With the result, Seattle concluded this season’s three international friendlies with a 2-1 record, beating Chivas and Boca Juniors, but losing to Celtic FC.
However, Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said there may be fewer such games next season, when the addition of expansion teams in Portland and Vancouver, B.C., increase the MLS regular season to 34 games.
“The fact that we’re going from 15 to 17 regular-season games at home will affect what we do with a season ticket,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “The fact that we are playing in Champions League again and hope to make it further into the tournament will affect it.”
Between league play, CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup, the Sounders will have played 42 matches before heading into the MLS Cup playoffs, where they could play up to four more games. Hanauer said the club is considering whether that is nearing the logical limit for players and fans.
The Sounders return to league play Friday, when Chivas USA visits for the final home game of the MLS regular season.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer