Seattle Sounders FC crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League, losing 5-1 on its trip to Santos Laguna, making for a 7-3 aggregate defeat.
Christian Suarez and Oribe Peralta scored in the opening eight minutes of the match, but Alvaro Fernandez pulled one back to send the sides into the break deadlocked on aggregate. However, a second half brace from Herculez Gomez, another goal from Suarez and a late strike from Carlos Ochoa left no doubt as to which team was superior.
"Our finishing was important," manager Benjamin Galindo said. "We always thought of winning, we have the qualities to do so, we never showed desperation and from the first minute we owned the game."
The match got off to a furious start with Seattle proving formidable in the opening minutes – just seven minutes in, Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez was forced into a quick double save to deny the Sounders from a corner kick.
On the ensuing Santos possession, though, the home side drove down the field, with Suarez cutting in from the left and taking advantage of some loose marking to find the time and space to power a shot past Michael Gspurning from outside the area.
The goal gave Santos Laguna the advantage on away goals, but not even a minute after the restart, it extended the lead. Suarez turned provider as he put a ball right to the feet of Peralta, who held off the challenge of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to turn and fire past a helpless Gspurning.
Despite conceding two goals within the first 10 minutes, the Sounders looked comfortable on the ball. While they saw of the ball, though, they were unable to break down a strong Santos defense marshaled by Felipe Baloy.
Baloy and his teammates looked like they would see things out until the end of the half, but an error from the hulking Panamanian allowed the visitors back into the game. Mauro Rosales swung in a ball from the left and Baloy was caught flat-footed as Fernandez separated from him and comfortably redirected the ball into the net.
Santos immediately looked to restore the advantage at the outset of the second half and had a great opportunity to do so through Herculez Gomez. However, the American striker uncharacteristically blasted over the bar from close range despite a perfectly-timed run.
However, Gomez would not miss a second time. On the counter, Cristian Suarez burst down the left and thanks to a stumble from Leonardo Gonzalez squared to Gomez, who thumped the ball home.
Seattle had its chances after the goal, including an effort for the recently-signed Eddie Johnson, who had a near-post effort saved by Sanchez not long after coming on.
However, Santos would all but seal the tie in the 73rd minute, again through Gomez. Peralta managed to sneak in a diagonal ball to Gomez, who finished past Gspurning under pressure to make it 4-1 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate.
Suarez heaped on the misery for the MLS side when he was played onside by an incohesive Seattle back line and finished expertly past Gspurning once more. Substitute Carlos Ochoa made it an even six as Hurtado let a ball slip by him, allowing Ochoa to finish comfortably from just inside the area.
"We needed that win," Christian Suarez said. "Thank God we worked hard and we were able to get a great result. We were effective and that really marked the difference."
Next up for Santos is Cruz Azul in the league.
"We're thinking of Cruz Azul now," Galindo said. "The time will come for the semifinal and we have to prepare. Now we must have players recover for Saturday's game."