Seattle’s moment at the 2022 Club World Cup
By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (February 1, 2023) American Football Players – The Seattle Sounders have already achieved a lot. There’s no denying, after all, that the Sounders’ victory in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League was a watershed moment for one of the fastest growing football leagues in the world. It took until the 14th edition of the Champions League for a Major League Soccer club to win. Seattle’s march to the title last year saw them beat two Liga MX clubs along the way, a testament to MLS’s methodical efforts to improve its standing on the international stage.
For the Sounders themselves, conquering Concacaf gave the club one of the only trophies missing from their incredibly well-stocked cabinet. Seattle was already a model club in MLS and the envy of organizations across North America, but Champions League glory cemented the Sounders’ position. They joined former Concacaf Champions Cup winners DC United and LA Galaxy, with the Galaxy qualifying for the canceled 2001 Club World Cup.
Seattle proved what could be done in the Champions League era. The club will forever be linked to this historic feat. Now for the next part. On Saturday, the Sounders will become the first MLS team to represent MLS at the Club World Cup. At the global level, Europe dominates.
The UEFA representative has won the Club World Cup nine times in a row. No team outside of Europe or South America (which last won the title via Brazil’s Corinthians in 2012) has ever lifted the trophy. Club World Cup results almost always reflect the reality of the modern game. With so much money and talent concentrated in Europe, the rest of the world will struggle to compete.
Concacaf’s history at the tournament is decidedly mixed. Clubs from Liga MX, the only league to have represented Concacaf at the Club World Cup, have performed well at times. In 2021, Tigers finished second in the postponed 2020 edition of the tournament at Bayern Munich. They beat South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai and Brazil’s Palmeiras before narrowly losing 1-0 to the European champions. Liga MX clubs have finished third five times, including in 2012 (Monterrey), 2017 (Pachuca) and 2019 (Monterrey).
More often than not, however, the Concacaf entry ends up missing out on a semi-final appearance. In February last year, Monterrey lost to Egypt’s Al Ahly in the second round, an entry point for Concacaf teams. Seattle doesn’t need to win the Club World Cup to make an impression. Reasonable expectations follow the team on its journey.
Seattle faces most of MLS’s problems: a schedule that puts the club at a distinct disadvantage as it ventures into international competition. This problem has long hampered MLS clubs trying to progress in the Concacaf Champions League. The Sounders themselves had to overcome early season rust to win the Champions League title last year.
Seattle’s 2022 Champions League campaign kicked off against Motagua of Honduras on February 17, deep into the club’s pre-season and just weeks before the start of the 2022 MLS season. on the pitch for their first competitive game in 2022, they had already trained for more than a month and played several friendlies.
For the Club World Cup, the Sounders go from a cold start straight into a fierce challenge. To prepare for the earliest start to the competitive season, Seattle kicked off its preseason on January 7. The club have spent the past week in Spain playing two friendlies within a few flying minutes of the venue for the Club World Cup in Morocco. in order to be as ready as possible for what’s to come on Saturday.
If Seattle were playing clubs at a similar point in their season, the timing of the tournament wouldn’t be as much of a concern. Like the Concacaf Champions League, the MLS team enters a competition to face clubs that are already in the rhythm of their seasons.
With the return of Joao Paulo and Obed Vargas from injuries that prematurely ended their 2022 seasons, head coach Brian Schmetzer has a full squad available for the first time since Seattle faced Pumas in the second leg of the Finals. of the Champions League last year. . The core of the Sounders, including United States internationals Christian Roldan and Jordan Morris, are healthy and ready for the challenge.
Seattle also went from strength to strength this winter, adding former NYCFC forward Heber to the depth chart behind best XI forward Raul Ruidiaz. Stefan Frei is healthy. Yeimar Gomez Andrade and Xavier Arreaga remain one of the best central defending duos in North America.
Last May, the Sounders conquered North America. Now it’s time to face the rest of the world.
Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. Contact him: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter.
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Photo by Imago via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com