- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - Lamar Neagle has had a tough time finding the goal in Major League Soccer games this season. It has been much easier for him in CONCACAF Champions League play.

Neagle scored two goals and the Seattle Sounders beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 on Wednesday night and advanced to the CCL quarterfinals.

Seattle completed Group F play at 2-1-1 and seven points. Vancouver (1-1-1, 4 points) still can tie on points by beating Olimpia in Honduras on Oct. 22, but the Sounders own the tiebreaker on goal differential, 4-1. The teams drew 1-1 in Vancouver on Aug. 5.

Nelson Valdez also scored for Seattle.

Neagle had nine MLS goals in 2014, but has just four in 29 games this season. His brace on Tuesday gave him three goals in four Champions League group-play games.

“That first goal (tonight) was unbelievable,” Neagle said. “It was a great ball right in front of me, I was able to get in front of the defender a little bit, and I was able to get a small touch on it.

In the 32nd minute, Chad Barrett flicked the ball into the left side of the 6-yard box. Neagle ran onto it and one-timed a shot into the back right corner past goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.

Valdez scored in the 39th. Marco Pappa curled a free kick from the far right side into the box. Barrett and Valdez both went up for the ball, Valdez winning it and sending it off the back of his head into the right corner.

Neagle made it 3-0 just 1:04 after halftime when he received a through ball from Barrett, took it into the box and beat Tornaghi from 15 yards straight in front.

“After having nine last year and not having nine this year yet, it’s nice to have two in a game especially in a game like this one,” Neagle said.

Neagle was one of seven players in coach Sigi Schmid’s starting lineup who did not play in last Saturday’s 3-0 MLS victory at Vancouver.

“It helps him because has played a lot of minutes (1,956). We’ve sort of put the mantle of all the injuries we’ve had,” Schmid said. “His legs were a little fresh, and also, your mentality becomes a little fresher.”

“It’s nice to have a lot more players healthy, so our options and choices were a lot better,” he added. “We played seven fresh guys tonight out of 11, and those guys acquitted themselves well.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei needed to make just two saves to notch the shutout. The Whitecaps got just six shots all night.

“We’re banged up at the moment, but I’m not using that as an excuse,” Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said. “I picked a team that I thought could get a result today, and we gave away a couple of bad goals. Until they scored, until that moment, I think we managed the game very well. Then we got caught a little bit sleeping. The first goal went in, and as in every game, the first goal is always crucial. We concede a set piece in the back, and at two-nil, it’s always difficult.”

The eight-team knockout stage is next Feb. 23-March 1.

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