GUATEMALA CITY - The Seattle Sounders became the first team to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League Tuesday night, getting an 89th-minute equalizer from Osvaldo Alonso to draw 2-2 with Comunicaciones.
The goal was the second of the match for Alonso, who equalized earlier just before halftime.
Alonso pounced on a ball that squirted loose inside the six-yard box and tapped it into the open net to clinch Seattle's place in the knockout stage just one year after the squad finished at the bottom of its group.
Just as it did in Seattle in the first meeting between the two squads, Comunicaciones took an early lead as Transito Montepeque took a long ball over the top of the Sounders defense by Carlos Mejia and chipped veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller from 22 meters in the seventh minute.
Two minutes later, Fredy Montero's volley from 10 meters forced Comunicaciones goalkeeper Juan Paredes into a save as the ball caromed out for Seattle's first corner kick.
In the 18th minute, Comunicaciones came close to taking a two-goal lead as Bryan Ordonez's overhead scissors kick off a corner caromed off the crossbar.
Ten minutes later, Carlos Mejia found himself free at the back post, but his chip was just wide of the far post.
Just when it looked like Comunicaciones would head into the break with a one-goal lead, Alonso equalized for Seattle when his side volley from 16 meters off a throw-in and failed clearance deflected past Paredes.
Erwin Morales reclaimed the lead in the 64th minute, pouncing on a botch punch attempt by Keller off a corner kick, and shot through a maze of legs from the edge of the six-yard box.
Three minutes later, Alonso had an open chance from 22 meters, but fired the ball well over the bar.
Seattle came agonizingly close to the equalizer in the final eight minutes with Montero heading the ball just wide from a chip by Alvaro Fernandez in the 82nd minute. Two minutes later, Montero rattled the crossbar, but the ball caromed downward and bounced in front of goal where Fernandez was unable to knock in the rebound.
The result kept Seattle atop Group D with 10 points, one ahead of defending champion Monterrey and three ahead of Comunicaciones with one round of matches to play.
Seattle will return home for its group finale on October 18 against Monterrey, which will need only a draw to also advance.
Even if Comunicaciones would win its group finale at Herediano on October 19, it has lost the head-to-head matchups against both Seattle and Monterrey, and needs a Seattle victory to advance.