SOUNDERS FC PUNCHES SEMIFINAL TICKET WITH 3-1 WIN OVER COLUMBUS CREW SC ACADEMY

By Terry Monahan

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 25, 2018) - Just before the end of halftime on Tuesday afternoon, Seattle Sounders U-16/17 head coach Chris Little had one message for his players. The one-goal lead they had against Crew SC Academy was not enough. They needed to press hard the first 15 minutes and score another goal.

The Northwest Division champs needed less than a minute, actually, just 23 seconds, to regain a two-goal lead in the U-16/17 Academy Playoffs Quarterfinal, as Alec Diaz turned a pass from Rey Serrano into the game-winning goal in the 3-1 victory.

"We came out right there with a lot of energy and pressed them hard,'' said Serrano, who also scored the Sounders' first goal. "I knew Alec would put it away.''

By beating Crew SC for the second time this season, Seattle will head to Kansas City from July 8-11 for the Academy Championship Semifinals at the Swope Soccer Village.

Seattle has not been shut out this season and it continued that streak with Ray Serrano's 19th minute goal. He finished off a pass from Marlon Vargas to score his 19th of the season. Vargas pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 28th minute with a shot to the far top corner of the net for his 21st of the season.

But the Crew clawed back into contention in the 33rd minute, as Philip Horton launched a lob shot from the middle of the box that jut eluded the goalie's outstretched hands, slicing the deficit to 2-1. It was Horton's sixth goal of the season.

That set the stage for Seattle's final goal, its 18th of this tournament, after the Crew turned the ball over near midfield. Two passes later, Diaz found the back of the net to score his 24th goal of the season.

"This was a big game,'' Serrano said. "We needed a win top get back to Kansas City. We were only up 2-1 at halftime and we wanted to get that goal to put them down. Every game we feel our front three is doing so well scoring goals. We work hard to make the offense work as well as it does.''