SEATTLE (AP) — A big night for Andy Rose enabled the Sounders to relax.
Rose had a goal and two assists to help Seattle beat Caribbean champion Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago 3-1 Thursday night in their opening Group Four game in CONCACAF Champions League.
Seattle enters the competition with a challenging schedule ahead. Sunday, it hosts rival Los Angeles in MLS play. Wednesday, the Sounders travel to Kansas City to face Sporting KC in the U.S. Open Cup Final. Next Saturday, they head to San Jose to play the Earthquakes in an MLS league game.
That’s why a 3-0 halftime lead on goals from Sammy Ochoa, Rose and Fredy Montero was so crucial. Ochoa opened the scoring for the Sounders in the 19th minute, Montero made it 2-0 in the 30th and Rose connected in the 43rd. Kareem Joseph scored for Caledonia in the 50th minute.
“A little bit of it was, let’s get the win, let’s manage the game, let’s not kill ourselves,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “It was great that we got the early goals. As a result, the work we put in in the second half was not as great as the work we would have to put in if we were tied or trying to make up a deficit.”
Ochoa finished with his left foot to put the Sounders in front. He had ample time in the center of the penalty area to settle, despite a strong first touch, and scored low and wide. Rose, who sent the ball toward Ochoa, and Alex Caskey, who barely touched it, were credited with assists.
The Sounders almost gave the goal right back after a turnover from Osvaldo Alonso just a minute later. Caledonia carried a 2-on-1 into the Sounders area, which eventually led to a shot from Joseph that goalkeeper Andrew Weber stopped with a diving save.
Seattle quickly reorganized and scored on Montero’s goal. Rose picked up his second assist of the night when he slipped a pass into the cutting Montero, who finished from the middle of the box. Cordell Cato also was credited with an assist.
Montero almost picked up his second goal of the first half, but Caledonia keeper Glenroy Samuel dove to his left to deflect it. The rebound was knocked in a by a sliding Rose on the backside to put Seattle up 3-0.
“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 scored when Joseph struck a penalty kick high and right. Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was called for the penalty when he collided with Joseph along the endline.
Seattle will play at Caledonia on Aug. 30 in Malabar.
“In the first half, we didn’t play well as a team and didn’t play well as individuals,” Caledonia coach Jerry Moe said. “We paid the price for that.”
The top teams in each of the eight three-team groups will advance to the quarterfinals.
Honduras’ Marathon also is in Group Four.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.