Since the Concacaf Champions Cup was reformatted to become the Concacaf Champions League in 2008, an MLS side has never lifted the title, finishing as runners up four times. Liga MX sides, on the other hand, have been dominant, winning 12 times with Monterrey themselves hoisting five titles. But the Seattle Sounders have a great chance to etch their names in history by being the first MLS side to win the whole thing.
It’s only fitting that the Sounders, one of the most successful teams in MLS history and one of the most talented rosters on paper after signing Albert Rusnak, is the team to get this chance. They’ve dominated the competition scoring the most goals with 13 and have also had one of the best defenses too.
Pumas won’t be happy just to be in the final after taking out favorites Cruz Azul as Juan Dinenno will likely win the golden boot with seven goals already in Champions League play. Their scrappy play has made them hard to break down and hosting the first leg could allow Pumas to sit back for the second leg in Seattle and defend if they get a lead.
While Rusnak dropping deep has been one of the keys to the team, it’s how that has freed up Cristian Roldan that has made the difference. Head coach Brian Schmetzer spoke about this in the lead up saying,
“His ability to dictate the tempo of the game with [João Paulo is great],” he said. “We were turning into a transition team. We defend a little deeper, not always by design, and Jordan [Morris] and Cristian [Roldan] would get out [on the counterattack]…Now we’re actually a good possession team too.”
Roldan leads CCL with five assists, coordinating a true team attack for the Sounders. With three players scoring multiple goals in Champions League so far and attacker Raul Ruidiaz now back and healthy, it will be tough for Pumas to pick who to focus their attention on as the entire Seattle team can beat them.
And this is before even mentioning the strength of the Sounders defense. While it has taken a step back from last season’s dominance, Xavier Arreaga has been impressive leading the defense even with players changing around him by the day. They’ve only allowed three goals during Champions League play so Pumas will need to be at the top of their game to score.
Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
How to watch and odds
- Date: Wednesday, Apr. 27 | Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Estadio Olimpico de Universitario — Mexico City, Mexico
- TV: FS1 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: Pumas -135; Draw +235; Seattle +340 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Pumas UNAM: The match couldn’t come at a worse time for Pumas. Their leading scorer Dinenno may miss the first leg as he struggles with a muscular injury. Starting center back Arturo Ortiz will also be out due to a suspension. While there aren’t many players missing, the importance of those two can’t be ignored in a must win match.
Seattle Sounders: Yeimar returned to the fold during Seattle’s’ loss to San Jose on Saturday and with that, Schmetzer has a full team available at his disposal. It has been a long time coming for a Sounders side that has had at least one injury since week one of the season but they can now flex their depth at an important time of the season.
Winning an away match in Concacaf is hard even with the difference in strength between the sides so while Seattle will dominate possession, leg one will end with the points being shared. Pick: Pumas 1, Seattle 1