SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Brad Evans scored the winning goal in the 78th minute as Sounders FC clinched a berth into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with 3-2 group-stage win Wednesday at CD Marathon of Honduras.
Seattle, which also got goals from forwards Sammy Ochoa and Eddie Johnson, improved to 3-0 in CCL’s Group 4, which ensured the MLS team a return trip to the knockout rounds of the competition.
“It’s tremendous,” said coach Sigi Schmid, whose team was the first to qualify for the quarterfinals. “It’s a goal we set for ourselves — that we want to qualify tonight — and we were able to accomplish that.”
Marathon fell to 0-1-1 and cannot catch the Sounders with two games to play. The third team in the group, Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago, has already been eliminated at 0-2-1.
Seattle has gone unbeaten in its past five road games in the CCL group stage (4-0-1) dating to last year. The team can now place its sole focus on the Supporters’ Shield race in the MLS regular season and setting up for a playoff run.
Evans broke a 2-2 tie for with a header off a cross from midfielder Osvaldo Alonso on the right side, a combination between two second-half substitutes. Unlike the Sounders’ previous two leads, this one stuck.
“For us, it’s a good confidence-booster,” Evans said. “This win under our belt will help us along the way in the long run.”
Johnson had given Seattle a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute, finishing a pass from midfielder Andy Rose, for Johnson’s 15th goal this season in all competitions — MLS, CCL and U.S. Open Cup.
Marathon responded in the 68th minute, however, on a penalty kick by Mario Berrios, his second of the game. The spot kick was awarded by referee Marlon Mejia after a controversial foul call on Sounders defender Patrick Ianni in the penalty box.
Ochoa gave the Sounders their first lead in the 11th minute when he headed in a cross from the left side by midfielder Mario Martinez — a goal also canceled out by a Berrios PK.
Ochoa has a team-high three goals in CCL this season, one in each group game. Martinez, a San Pedro Sula native, got his first assist for the Sounders in a return to his hometown.
The Sounders have conceded a penalty kick in all three of their CCL group games — four total.
“We were afraid they were going to call another,” joked Schmid, whose team has given up 21 PKs in the international competition since 2010.