Seattle seek to finish job in CONCACAF Champions League
The Seattle Sounders will be chasing a piece of history Wednesday as they attempt to become the first MLS club to be crowned continental champions in more than two decades against Mexico’s Pumas UNAM in the CONCACAF Champions League final.
A record crowd of 69,000 is expected at Seattle’s Lumen Field to see if the Sounders can close out victory, one week after securing a dramatic 2-2 draw in the first leg in Mexico City.
No Major League Soccer side has won the tournament since it was revamped in 2008 as the CONCACAF Champions League, along the lines of the UEFA Champions League.
The last MLS team to win the continental title – which gives the winner a place in FIFA’s Club World Cup – were the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000, when the tournament was a straight knockout event, the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
While a Seattle victory on Wednesday would mark a milestone moment for MLS, Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer says he is not thinking about the broader significance of what winning would mean.
“We don’t worry so much about the national scale,” Schmetzer said.
“For us winning would be a reward for the hard work the players put in, because they come first. They’re the ones who put in the work, day-in, day-out. For the entire organization it would be a real accomplishment.
“And then on top of that you think about all the fans that have been around since the 1970s, all of those memories.”
Nevertheless Schmetzer believes a Seattle victory on Wednesday could be a watershed for MLS clubs in the competition.
“There’s a pretty big if, but if we’re fortunate enough to finish the job it would mean a lot. It’s pretty cool for MLS if it finally happens,” he said.
“It would probably open the door to more success I believe,” he added. “I’m a firm believer that we’re getting closer. And somebody has to do it.”
Seattle officials have already sold more than 61,000 tickets for Wednesday’s game, meaning that the record attendance for a CONCACAF Champions League final – 61,004 set in 2015 – will almost certainly be surpassed.
Officials expect the attendance to near the 69,274 that packed Lumen Field in 2019 to see Seattle win the MLS Cup against Toronto.
Seattle’s US international forward Jordan Morris meanwhile said the club is desperate to add the Champions League crown to the Sounders’ large collection of domestic titles.
Since 2009, the Sounders have won two MLS Cups, one Supporters Shield and four US Open Cups.
“This is the one we don’t have,” Morris said. “So we really want to win this one.”