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Sounders' first CCL encounter linked to match-fixing episode

Metapan players say they were approached about fixing a 2010 CCL match against Sounders.

Alvaro Fernandez scored the goal that put the Sounders through.
Alvaro Fernandez scored the goal that put the Sounders through.

CONCACAF Champions League occupies a strange place in the minds of Major League Soccer fans. On one hand, it's the closest thing we have to Europe's Champions League and it's our teams' only chance to play meaningful games against international opponents. On the other, no one seems to take it entirely as seriously as they should, with Mexican and MLS teams often using those games as an excuse to get non-regulars more minutes.

That the group stage games are often against teams with paltry resources and spread out over two MLS season further dilutes the competition in many people's minds.

As if the deck weren't stacked enough, now comes allegations that some of these games may have been fixed. The El Salvador attorney general has apparently been gathering information that Isidro Metapan may have outright thrown one game -- a 8-0 loss to Pumas in 2012 -- and may have attempted to fix other games, two of which were supposedly against the Sounders.

The player in the middle of this whole situation is Paolo Suarez (yes, that's Luis Suarez's older brother), who predictably denies having any involvement.

Now, it should be pointed out that the games in which the Sounders were supposedly participants hardly appear to have been fixed. As you may remember, the Sounders won the first leg of their 2010 CCL preliminary round match 1-0. Apparently, a match-fixer had wanted Metapan to lose 7-0. Suarez reportedly tried to get his teammates to throw the second leg as well, but wasn't much more effective. The Sounders advanced with a 1-1 tie, needing a late goal from Alvaro Fernandez to avoid extra time. Metapan's go-ahead goal in the second leg was scored off an assist from Suarez.

While it does appear as though the Sounders' advancement was fairly won, this whole episode probably won't do much to enhance anyone's faith in CCL. Either way, the Sounders return to CCL action this year when they enter the 2015-2016 group stage, likely in August.