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NYCFC fall to Seattle in first leg of Champions League semi-finals

SEATTLE – Albert Rusnák and Jordan Morris scored in the first half, Nicolás Lodeiro converted a penalty midway through the second half and the Seattle Sounders beat New York City FC 3-1 on Wednesday night in the first leg CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals. .

The two-game scoring streak saw the Sounders take a comfortable lead, but Seattle also allowed a key road goal to NYCFC’s Thiago Andrade in the first half that could serve as a tiebreaker in the second leg. next week at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey

“I don’t think there was a player who didn’t have a great performance. And that’s what you need in these kinds of games,” Rusnák said. “We played against a good team. and we managed to win by two goals, so we are halfway there.

Rusnák’s goal came in the 16th minute and was his first since signing with Seattle in the offseason. Morris made it 2-1 later in the first half and Lodeiro’s 68th-minute penalty came after a video review showed Raúl Ruidíaz fouled in the penalty area by Thiago Martins.

“They’re deadly when they get opportunities like that,” NYCFC coach Ronny Delia said. “But we scored our away goal and it was important.”

Valentin Castellanos has his shot blocked by the Seattle keeper in the first leg loss to NYCFC.

The game between Seattle and NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup champions, is the first time two MLS teams have met in the Champions League semi-finals. The winner will meet either Pumas or Cruz Azul of LigaMX in the two-game home and away final. Pumas hold a 2-1 lead after Tuesday night’s first leg in Mexico City.

Four MLS teams have already reached the Champions League final since the current format was adopted in 2008 – Real Salt Lake (2011), CF Montreal (2015), Toronto FC (2018) and LAFC (2020) – but none left with the title. Seattle will have the advantage of joining this quartet of MLS teams heading into next week’s return game.

“They scored an away goal, which helps them a bit in the chess game,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “But we’re not going to be afraid to go back to the Red Bull Arena and try to win.”

The Sounders have for years expressed their desire to be the first MLS side to win the Champions League and their impressive performances in the knockout stage this season have reinforced that belief. Seattle has outscored opponents 12-2 in five CCL games this season.

Rusnák’s first goal for Seattle was scored by the combo of Cristian Roldan and Morris. Roldan also assisted Morris’ goal in the 35th minute, pulling the pass back from the baseline to the penalty spot where Morris finished in the top corner past NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Despite Seattle’s convincing victory, Andrade’s goal was important for NYCFC as a 2-0 win in the second leg would send the MLS champions out due to the goal tiebreaker on the road. It was NYCFC’s first Champions League semi-final game, having never made it past the quarter-finals before.

NYCFC also played without excellent midfielder Maxi Moralez due to a rib injury.

” We’re going home. We have to win 2-0. We’ve done it many times before,” Delia said.

New York Post

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