Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Battery Trio Shine in CCL Semifinal

In yet another wild night in Mexico, three former Charleston Battery players led the charge as the Seattle Sounders finished 1-1 with Santos Laguna in Torreon.  The draw means the Cascadians are eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League (2-1 aggregate) in the semifinal round.   While the Sounders will be kicking themselves for surrendering to Santos in the Semis once again, at least this time they can return to the States proud of their grit, with their dignity in tact.

Instrumental in Seattle's struggle to reach the Champions League final were three young men who not long ago graced the turf of Blackbaud Stadium.  Osvaldo Alonso, Alex Caskey, and Lamar Neagle shined for the Sounders in last night's exciting, albeit disappointing tie with Santos.  Caskey and Alonso  featured prominently from the starting whistle, while Neagle played the role of super-sub.  Caskey flitted in dangerous crosses throughout the match while Alonso's commanding midfield presence allowed Seattle to press the attack.  Despite controlling the opening stages, the visitors were punished in the 21st minute, as Santos cashed in on some sloppy defending.

Now battling to overturn a two goal deficit, Seattle clicked on from the second half restart.  It was Alonso who lit the fire, with a dazzling run in the 47th minute but his powerful shot was extinguished by Laguna's Sanchez and the chance went begging.  Neagle took the pitch in the 61st minute and things began to open up immediately.  Initially playing the ball in for Steve Zakuani, Neagle poked home the deflected shot in the 73rd to pull Seattle within one.  Ten minutes later, Caskey looped in a deadly cross that was met by Shalrie Joseph at close range.  However, the headed ball was snatched up by the ever present Sanchez and Santos would coast to victory in the final minutes.

The result comes as a hard pill to swallow, but its a marked improvement from being eaten alive in the same fixture a year ago.  And it may come as little consolation, but a 1-1 draw is a respectable finish considering the Estadio Corona is among the most brutal arenas on the continent.  With full bias intended, the Sounders could not have done it without the aid of their former Battery players.  Its exciting to see our Charleston alums flourishing at the top flight of the American game and I'm sure many more will follow in their footsteps!

Well done lads!!  And as always, UP THE BATTERY!!!

(photo credit:  Sounders Facebook page)

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