The Seattle Sounders win the CONCACAF Champions League

History was made last Wednesday at Lumen Field as the Seattle Sounders became the first ever MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League (SCCL). 

Since its introduction in 2008, no Major League Soccer team has ever had the honor of hoisting the CONCACAF Champions League trophy. The competition has been dominated by Mexican league sides, with CF Pachuca winning three times, CF Monterrey winning five times, CF America winning twice, and Atlante, Cruz Azul, Chivas, and UANL Tigres each winning once. Each of these winners advanced to the Club World Cup, each with varying levels of success. 

The final featured a standard two leg format, with one game being played at each of the finalist’s home stadiums. The first leg came down to the wire, with Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro scoring a 90+9’ penalty to tie the game at 2-2. Lodeiro had scored another penalty to get Seattle back into the game 20 minutes prior. These two spot kicks canceled out PUMAS striker Juan Dinenno’s brace from earlier in the game. This squared the tie and there was everything to play for in leg two.

The second leg did not start in Seattle’s favor, as two of their star players: Nouhou Tolo and Joao Paulo, got injured 20 minutes in and had to be subbed off. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer turned to his options on the bench, one with experience and with not as much. Kelyn Rowe, 30, was brought on in place of the injured Nouhou and 16 year old Obed Vargas came on for Joao Paulo. It was later determined that Joao Paulo suffered an ACL injury and would be unavailable for the remainder of the season. But after a few half-chances from PUMAS, it was the Sounders who took the lead just before the stroke of halftime, which came through the deflected finish of Peruvian striker, Raul Ruidiaz. Seattle went into the break with a 1-0 lead. In front, but nowhere near comfortable. After a grueling second half for both sides and both keepers making tremendous saves, Seattle finally extended their lead. A quick counterattack saw the rave green side sprint forward in numbers. Jordan Morris drove forward before laying the ball back to Lodeiro, who unselfishly squared the ball once more to Ruidiaz who made no mistake from 12 yards out. Now desperate, PUMAS needed to throw numbers forward if they wanted any hope of keeping the game alive. This allowed another break for the Sounders. In the 88th minute, Jordan Morris received the ball just inside the box and turned his defender well. He struck the ball with venom and produced a wonder save from PUMAS keeper Alfredo Talavera. Unfortunately for the Mexican shot stopper, he could only manage to tip the ball off the left hand post, where it fell kindly for Nico Lodeiro to tap into an empty net. This concluded the game and the Sounders celebrated like they’d never celebrated before. 

What does this win mean? This means that the Sounders will compete in the Club World Cup, a global tournament consisting of the winners of each domestic Champions League around the world. Winners from Asia, Oceania, South America, North America, Africa, and Europe will all gather in the UAE to find the winner. This will be uncharted territory for an MLS side, and the Sounders will strive to make the most of this opportunity. 

For more information on Seattle’s future fixtures, head to https://www.soundersfc.com/schedule/matches#competition=all&date=2022-05-11 for all their upcoming matches.

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