Seattle falls at home in Champions League semifinal opener

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Herculez Gomez. Of course it had to be Herculez Gomez who scored the goal that will make it so hard for Seattle to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Gomez, a U.S. international who had to ditch MLS for opportunities in Mexico to get his career past a sticking point, scored the lone goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 win for Santos Laguna.

Gomez has proven to be quite the MLS killer over the years. The California native had three goals over two legs against the Sounders last year in this competition. (Santos prevailed in that one, 7-3 on aggregate.)

Feel free to ask yourself at this point, was it really such an awesome idea for Sounders fans to chant “Sounders reject!” early in the match? Gomez played briefly for the Sounders on loan in 2003; clearly, the fans mocking words acted as accelerant on the man’s inner fire. 

Next week’s return leg is in Mexico, and the chances that Seattle can become the second MLS club to find its way into the Champions League final aren’t exactly zero. But they are pretty close. We told you yesterday that it was tough to like Seattle’s chances in the series. Well, stack the odds a little higher in the “against” category.

Listen to Sounders manager Sigi Schmid: “…we just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. But that’s not impossible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

Seattle played without four important attackers, who were rested or injured: strikers Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson and starting flank midfielders Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani.

Barring a shocking result next week in Torreon, this leaves the LA Galaxy as the only MLS club with a fighting chance of landing in the the regional tournament final. Bruce Arena’s club begins it home-and-away series against Mexico’s Monterrey tonight. (More on that later at ProSoccerTalk.)