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Seattle defeat Pumas UNAM to win CONCACAF Champions League


Los Angeles (AFP) – The Seattle Sounders defeated Mexico’s Pumas UNAM 5-2 on aggregate to win the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, ending Major League Soccer’s 23-year wait to lift the top club tournament for teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Two goals from Peruvian international Raul Ruidiaz and a late strike from Uruguayan veteran Nicolas Lodeiro sealed a deserved 3-0 second leg victory in front of a tournament record crowd of 68,741 at Seattle’s Lumen Field. Last week’s first leg had ended in a 2-2 draw in Mexico City.

The Sounders’ victory ends 16 years of unbroken dominance by Mexican sides in the regional club tournament. 

No MLS club had been crowned champions of CONCACAF since Los Angeles Galaxy lifted the title in 2000.

Ruidiaz struck in the 45th and 80th minutes before Lodeiro lashed in a rebound in the 88th minute to spark wild celebrations amongst Seattle’s passionate supporters.

The title means Seattle will also become the first MLS side to advance to FIFA’s Club World Cup tournament.

A cagey opening 45 minutes saw Seattle forced to reorganize their defense and midfield after early injuries to left back Nouhou Tolo and midfield playmaker Joao Paulo.

Tolo limped out of the fray after an ugly challenge from Pumas right back Jose Galindo, who earned a yellow card for a wild kick on the Cameroon international’s thigh.

Joao Paulo exited after 25 minutes following a clumsy challenge from Leonel Lopez, forcing Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer to bring on 16-year-old teenager Obed Vargas as a substitute.

Until that moment, neither side had created much in the way of scoring changes, with Ruidiaz failing to trouble Pumas goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera with a 15th minute header and a curling shot four minutes later.

As the half wore on Pumas gradually gained a foothold and created the better chances.

Washington Corozo squandered a golden opportunity in the 32nd minute after a floated through ball from Favio Alvarez caught the Seattle defense napping.

With just goalkeeper Stefan Frei to beat, Corozo rushed an attempted lob and blazed over the bar with his first touch.

But on the stroke of half-time Seattle broke the deadlock.

A jinking run from Albert Rusnak carried the Slovakia international into the Pumas penalty area and his firmly hit low cross was met by Xavier Arreaga, who laid off for Ruidiaz.

The Peruvian’s shot took a wicked deflection off Diogo De Oliveira and Talavera could only watch helplessly as the ball rolled into the net.

Seattle soaked up pressure in the second half as Pumas chased an equalizer, and only a fantastic reflex save from Sounders keeper Frei denied an equalizer from De Oliveira’s thumping header.

But as Pumas pressed forward, Seattle carved out openings on the counter-attack and 10 minutes from time Ruidiaz grabbed his second. 

Jordan Morris burst down the right flank and passed to Lodeiro who laid off for the Peruvian, who drilled his finish past Talavera.

Lodeiro then put the seal on the victory in the 88th minute, thumping home a finish after Morris’s shot rebounded off the woodwork.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Roberto

    May 5, 2022 at 8:19 am

    Seattle finally put together a complete game. Not many teams could lose two starters and not be forced to change their game. It will be interesting to see how they do in the club world cup. A few years ago Monterrey made it to the final and gave an EPL team a real challenge.

  2. Turfit

    May 5, 2022 at 7:00 am

    If CONCACAF had group stages for this competition, neither one of these teams would have made it to the championship match since they both are very poor teams. Of all the Champions Leagues around the world, CONCACAF has the worse format and the worse tournament.

    • locofooty

      May 5, 2022 at 9:26 am

      Turfit, what does that say about the level of competition if both teams that made the final are very poor teams to you. For all the shortcomings and the low level of play, Liga MX and MLS are the strongest leagues of the zone. Maybe this 2 teams wouldn’t have made it, but it definitely would’ve been a final between 2 mexican teams, 2 MLS teams, or facing each other.

      • Turfit

        May 5, 2022 at 10:02 am

        My point is that Seattle is currently in 12th place on the table in the West, and Pumas is currently in 11th. They are not the top teams from either leagues.

        • locofooty

          May 5, 2022 at 10:29 am

          But they qualified to CCL based from last season. Philadelphia, Orlando, the LA teams weren’t even in CCL this year. As proven time and time, domestic and cup comps are different.

          I get what you’re saying, CCL’s format and quality is not very good, but it is what the region has.

        • Roberto

          May 5, 2022 at 3:24 pm

          Seattle has played about 3-4 less games then the others. The year they won the title they were about the same spot because of injuries. In about six weeks they will be near the top spot. Pumas has played better football the last couple of weeks and may end being contenders.
          Something else to remember, like my Mom said, “if you do not have anything nice to say, it is best to not say anything”!

        • Roberto

          May 5, 2022 at 3:25 pm

          Seattle has played about 3-4 less games then the others. One of the years they won the title they were about the same spot because of injuries. In about six weeks they will be near the top spot. Pumas has played better football the last couple of weeks and may end being contenders.
          Something else to remember, like my Mom said, “if you do not have anything nice to say, it is best to not say anything”!

      • dave

        May 5, 2022 at 3:59 pm

        @locofooty and @Turfit, thanks for your discussion. I do not follow CCL but was surprised to see ads for Cruz-Pumas as a “champions league” semifinal. Both are repechage-level Liga MX, but both are random enough to beat a top team then drop points to the bottom of the table. No group stage and a weak field helps explain it
        .
        I am hopeful that expanded Leagues Cup will feature more best vs. best games. Quality in Liga MX and MLS seems similar, especially at the top. It will be fun to follow if teams play strong lineups and care about winning. We will see

        • Turfit

          May 6, 2022 at 9:43 am

          I know CONCACAF is planning to expand the CCL in 2024 but I’m going to argue that they did not go far enough.
          First off, According to Wikipedia “List of countries by total wealth” the USA is #1, Canada is #9 and Mexico is #16. These 3 countries is wealthier than any South American or African country, and Seattle got a paycheck of $500,000 for winning the CCL. CAF get $2.5 million, AFC winner get $4 million, UEFA Europa League get $8.6 million, Copa Libertadores get $12 million, and UEFA get $23.18 million. Maybe the prize money goes up in 2024, I’m not able to find any info for the prize money. But five hundred thousand is a joke for this level of competition.
          Second, Copa Libertadores has 47 teams from 10 associations with a 32 team group stage, CAF has 54 teams from 42 associations with 16 team group stage. Both of these have a second level competition to include additional teams. CCL will have 27 teams from 27 associations with 16 team group stage and no second level competition.
          The 2024 CCL will be better than what we have right now but it is not to the level that it should be.

          • Roberto

            May 6, 2022 at 10:47 am

            This is the upside, comments that provide constructive criticism. Do not know if MLS’ leaders read these comments or the Podcast where Chris and Kartik often make constructive comment (that sometimes make me mad), but it would be useful if they did. All leagues have problems to correct. The MLS is somewhat a prisoner of the past. The old NASL over spent and was poorly run, this league is better but really needs to get over the past.
            The CCL does not get much TV revenue, there were more viewers this year but without that money it will be hard for the teams to get more $$$$.

    • Tim

      May 5, 2022 at 9:39 am

      lol you’re on drugs

  3. Inter Miami Football Fan

    May 5, 2022 at 1:18 am

    From an Inter Miami Football Club Fan, Congratulations to Seattle Sounders Football Club for kicking mexican A$$ on both legs of the Concacaf championship game which means there should not be any whinning or lame excuses to hear from them.

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