Pollsters continue history in Champions League final


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The Seattle Sounders celebrate after a 1-1 draw against New York City FC in the second leg of a CONCACAF Champions League semi-final soccer match Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Harrison, NJ The Sounders won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

PA

It probably wasn’t Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer’s intention to create an unfiltered catchphrase in the wake of his club’s historic achievement.

“It’s a massive (expletive) deal for the club, okay? It’s a big deal,” Schmetzer said in the dressing room after the Sounders qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League final. for the first time in club history.

This short, sonic little phrase became the cornerstone of Sounders marketing ahead of the first leg of the final against the Pumas of the LigaMX club on Wednesday night in Mexico City.

Schmetzer is right. It’s a big problem. Even Marshawn Lynch thinks so, cutting a promo for the team using Schmetzer’s words.

It matters because no Major League Soccer team has won the CCL since its current format was adopted in 2008 and Seattle may have the best shot of any team in the league to date.

“Sigi (Schmid) always said, ‘We want to be the first team to do this. We want to be the first team to do this,’ because we’re the Seattle Sounders,” Schmetzer said this week before the start. team for Mexico.” Not because we’re part of MLS, but it was our inherent culture that we keep trying to build.

“I would echo Sigi’s words. We want to be the first to win a CCL title. This is a big, huge opportunity.

Seattle is the fifth MLS team to qualify for the CCL Finals, following Real Salt Lake (2011), CF Montreal (2015), Toronto FC (2018) and LAFC (2020). MLS came close to breaking through in those previous opportunities. RSL lost the second leg at home to Monterrey 1-0 in 2011 after a 2-2 draw in Mexico. Montreal took on Club América to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca before losing 4-2 at home.

Toronto reached a penalty shootout against Chivas de Guadalajara before losing 4-2 to PKs. And LAFC in a one-game final in 2020 was leading 1-0 ahead of two Tigers goals in the final 20 minutes.

The Sounders have perhaps the best chance of ending the drought for MLS. Seattle will host the second leg on May 4, the first time the CCL Finals have been decided over two games since 2019. And unlike previous rounds of the tournament, road goals are not a Finals tiebreaker.

“You want to win things. You want to win trophies. That’s what you’ll remember after your career,” Seattle midfielder Albert Rusnák said. “It’s not just for me, but for everyone here. We are aware of “The fact that no MLS team has won it before. All these things. We may not say it as often as you would like, but everyone is aware of it.”

The Sounders have made the Champions League a priority for most of their time since joining MLS in 2009. This year marks the Sounders’ seventh time in the tournament and the fifth time that they reach at least the quarter-finals.

Prior to this season, Seattle’s best result was reaching the semi-finals in 2013 before losing to Santos Laguna.

Although it lacks the influence of the UEFA Champions League, which features the best clubs from Europe’s top leagues, winning the CONCACAF version is the route to the FIFA Club World Cup and the opportunity to take on some of the best club teams in the world in a competitive game.

Although Seattle has the advantage of hosting the second leg at home, Rusnák said Wednesday’s approach would be the same as previous games on the road to the tournament.

“We’re not going there to get a draw or not to lose the game by a few goals. We’re going there to win the game,” Rusnák said. “At the end of the day, it’s the mentality we’ve had so far…. The mentality is to win the game.

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