By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Before facing another run of a busy schedule, Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he would reach deep into his roster and find players he believed would rise to the occasion.
Several did so Thursday, including midfielder Andy Rose who figured in all of his team’s goals as Seattle opened CONCACAF Champions League play with a 3-1 win over Caledonia AIA of Trinidad.
“It feels great,” Rose said of his first CCL match. “First half, I thought, was pretty impressive. We came out a little slow, but when Sammy (Ochoa) scored that first one I thought we were really good. We kept the ball well in the opponent’s half, which is what we really want to be doing.”
The match was the first of three for the Sounders over a seven-day stretch. They return to MLS play Sunday, when Los Angeles visits CenturyLink Field. Then they play for the U.S. Open Cup championship Wednesday at Kansas City.
With that schedule looming, Seattle went with a mix-and-match lineup including Andrew Weber in goal, Ochoa at forward, Brad Evans as an outside defender and Cordell Cato and Rose at midfield.
Schmid said he was pleased with what they provided.
“It was obviously good to see Sammy Ochoa score,” he said. “That was a good early goal to get us off the mark there. … Zach Scott had an injury that came up late, so we put Brad Evans in at right back. I thought he did a good job again at right back for us. … I think (Cato’s) speed gave them some problems, and he was heavily involved with our second goal with the ball that he laid through to Andy Rose. So, obviously different people got to step up.”
Seattle broke to a 3-0 lead and then cruised to an opening win in the four-game CCL group stage.
Schmid said he wasn’t concerned that his club failed to build on its lead in the second half, even though goal differential could figure in breaking ties for winning the group and for seeding into the knockout round.
“If we win games we’re going to get points, and then we don’t have to worry about goal difference,” he said. “You only have to worry about goal difference if you’re planning to drop some games along the way. We want to win all our games.”
Ochoa provided the first goal in the 19th minute, assisted by Rose and Caskey.
Fredy Montero increased it to 2-0 in the 30th minute, assisted by Rose and Cato.
Then Rose, who has started eight MLS matches, made it 3-0 in the 43rd minute, beating Ochoa to the rebound of a Montero shot blocked but not controlled by goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel.
“I thought the combination play was really good between Fredy and Sammy coming in,” Rose said. “I thought it felt good to get the ball moving and maintaining possession in that half. Overall, the first half was really good. The second half maybe should’ve been a bit better, but we’ll definitely take the win.”
Caledonia’s lone goal came in the 50th minute, with Kareem Joseph converting a penalty kick after Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was called for a foul in the box.
“In the first half we didn’t play well as a team and we paid the price for that,” Caledonia coach Jerry Moe said. “… We are a little bit sluggish. Hopefully, by the next game we’ll be a little more prepared.”
The crowd of 7,767 was the smallest for an in-season Sounders match at CenturyLink Field.
“We accomplished what we wanted to achieve, which was to win the game,” Schmid said. “It was nice that we could take Ozzie out, so he only had to play 45 minutes. I think that was good. Didn’t get any injuries, so that was good. … A little bit of it was ‘Let’s get the win, let’s manage the game, let’s not kill ourselves.’”
The Sounders resume CCL play Aug. 30 at Caledonia.