Seriously, this is a big deal. And yet, we know so little. Metapan plays in a 10-team league with two seasons in a given calendar year. They have playoffs at the end. They are the top team in recent El Salvador history.
We think they run a 4-4-2 variant, and we know they can score goals.
So what are the keys to Seattle getting the early lead in the two-leg aggregate series?
Impose Sigi's Game - We have started to see it recently, but it is imperative that the Sounders use their home match to dictate pace, tempo and match style. I don't want to hear about how "they play a different kind of soccer." In any game there are two sides that get to dictate the style of match. Seattle MUST dicatate they style tonight.
Like last season at their best, we need to see a team that attacks the ball when the other side possesses, and then upon obtaining the ball they must attack the goal. With a few veterans of international CONCACAF ball (Leo Gonzalez, Tyrone Marshall, Kasey Keller, Osvaldo Alonso, Peter Vagenas and even Taylor Graham) the opposing style shouldn't be a terrible surprise. Yes, there will be nuances of difference, but the fact is that Seattle has a team of players with National Team or Club experience within CONCACAF outside of MLS/USL.
Beware the footwork - Yes, the teams the Sounders face in this tournament will likely have better footwork and on-ball skills. Don't get distracted by fancy moves that neither advance the ball, nor create space. They are merely distractions. Certainly don't try to match the playground stylings that may appear. The team must stay within itself and be its own style. That's a big part of the reason I expect to see Peter Vagenas on the pitch. Vagenas also has experience in this tournament, as he was a member of the 2000 Galaxy squad that won the CCL.
Use Superior Physical Attributes - MLS is a physical and fast league. Take advantage of that. With two likely big bruising centerbacks and wing players that can run the lines as well as any in this league, Seattle needs to use those advantages. Normally we say MLS is physical as a kind of derision.
Tonight it can be a point of emphasis. Take the signature of the League and own it. Be what you are.
MAKE HOME PITCH MATTER - I don't really have more to say about it than that. XBox Pitch at Qwest Field is OURS. Claim it. If the Sounders are to make a deep run in the CCL they must get at least a draw at home in every match, against any opponent. The Rave Green know the nuance of this Field Turf better than any, they know the volume of fans, they know that this stadium was built to raise championship banners. MAKE IT MATTER.
Arlo has the radio call on 97.3
FSC has the TV
Dave will host the gamethread