The full field is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and while we don't know who awaits the Seattle Sounders, we know it won't be easy. The Sounders will face one of the three group winners, one of two Mexican teams or the Los Angeles Galaxy. Last year, the draw was released on Nov. 1.
If I were a betting man, I'd guess the Sounders will be facing either Santos Laguna or UNAM Pumas. Monterrey, the other group winner, is the one team the Sounders can't play, as both were in Group D. Let's take a look at the Sounders' possible opponents:
Santos Laguna: No team looked as dominant in the group stage as Los Guerreros. Their 4-1-1 record was the best of any team and their +10 goal-difference was four goals better than any other team. Oribe Peralta, Carlos Quintero and Christian Suarez combined for 11 goals and formed the most effective strike force in CCL. In two group stage matches against the Colorado Rapids, they won 6-1 on aggregate.
In Mexican Primera play, they are currently leading the Apertura with 23 points through 12 matches. Peralta already has nine goals and leads the league. They play in Estadio Corona, one of the newer stadiums in Mexico, having been built in 2009. A quarterfinal against Santos Laguna probably represents a worst-case scenario for the Sounders.
UNAM Pumas: The Mexico City-based reigning champions of the 2011 Clausura, Pumas were not quite as dominant as Santos, but finished off group play strong. After opening with a loss at home against FC Dallas and a surprising tie against Tauro, they finished with three wins in their final four matches, outscoring their opponents 8-1 in that time.
Pumas are off to a bit of slow start in the Clausura, going 6-5-2 and sitting in seventh place with a -3 goal-difference. Martin Chavez has been and continues to be their top scorer, bagging three goals in CCL group play after leading the team with 10 goals in last year's Apertura winning campaign.
The good news for the Sounders is that MLS teams did fairly well against Pumas in group play. Aside from FC Dallas' win in Mexico City, Toronto FC pulled out a tie at home.
LA Galaxy: This seems to be the least likely opponent that the Sounders would face, mainly because it would seem to make the most sense to have them play Toronto. Whether or not that's a good thing for the Sounders is certainly an open question.
The Sounders have not beaten the Galaxy in MLS play since 2009, going 0-5-1 including the playoffs during that time. On the plus side, the Sounders have beaten the Galaxy twice in U.S. Open Cup play.
Playing the Galaxy would be a lot easier from a travel perspective, as it would be more than 1,000 miles closer than Mexico City. Flying commercial, it's also about five hours less of travel time.