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Sounders CONCACAF Champions League success powered by "B" lineups

Now in their fourth CCL cycle, Sigi Schmid's side has earned a 13-12-4 +2 record behind lineups that are a mix of reserves, rotational players and starters.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Sounders FC have tallied some impressive history in the CONCACAF Champions League. As an MLS side they were the second ever team to win in Mexico, they beat a Mexican team in the Knockout Stage, and they've gotten crushed by Santos Laguna. With the current format, playing against a Mexican team is something for the future. It requires a win tonight (7 p.m., FS2) over Cascadian rival Vancouver Whitecaps.

With another key MLS match on Sunday and coming off a win against the same Whitecaps on Saturday, Sigi Schmid's lineup decisions will be difficult. After looking at the 29 previous CCL matches, lumping them into A quality (8 or more regular starters,) B quality and C quality (3 or fewer regular starters,) a few things stick out.

  • Schmid used A quality squads in 10/11 Group Stage and in Knockouts
  • C quality lineups are rare, but win
  • CCL is about squad rotation, with most matches involving B strength teams

If you want to see the A-team, you will likely be disappointed. This is not just about health and it is not about a devaluation of the tournament. It's because the A-squad doesn't play in the CCL that often, and their record isn't that good. The A-team is just  4-5-3 -4 (W/L/D gd), with six of those matches being against teams from Mexico.

The C-team's surprising record is  4-1-0 +3 facing Olimpia (twice,) Marathon (twice) and Monterrey (a win!) The lineup is unlikely to be that weak.

It is the B-team that does the heavy lifting in CCL play. It is a mix of starters, rotational players and reserves. They've put together a 5-6-1 +3 crushing Caledonia (twice) and Communicaciones (once).

We should expect that B-team - a couple mid-summer additions, a few former starters and some dudes that generally ride the bench or play for S2. It may be on the edge of a rough dividing line between B and C, but it's also a quality that has a history of success in this tournament, and likely means that the 2016 season ticket package will include games against the likes of Santos Laguna, Tigres, Querétaro, America, the Galaxy, RSL and DC United.

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