When Sigi Schmid last took the Seattle Sounders to the CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Rounds he did so with a squad that featured several rotational players rather than starters. They went 1-1-2 with a zero goal differential (4 for, 4 against), beating UANL Tigres and getting edged by Santos Laguna.
Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., the Sounders will have a full strength squad. That alone should be reason to hope, despite the potency of Club America. Breaking down the changes by position, the change in quality is fairly obvious.
Keeper - Even
Marcus Hahnemann had one start, with Michael Gspurning getting the other three. Gspurning was a strong keeper with Seattle, but so is Stefan Frei.
Right Back - Even
This is a tough call, but DeAndre Yedlin scored a goal in his three starts. Zach Scott did get a single start at full back. Tyrone Mears is a better defender than young Yedlin, but that goal makes this one a push.
Centerback - Now
Djimi Traore started all four games. Twice Scott started and twice Jhon Kennedy Hurtado did. While Hurtado was once a great CB and Djimi was darn good, they don't compare to Chad Marshall and Brad Evans.
Left back - Then
Joevin Jones looks great as an attacking fullback, but back in the day Leo Gonzalez was a strong player. Leo was a great defender and still in his prime. By the end of the year this rating may change. The match is in a couple days.
Right Mid - Then
Evans got one start wide right, as did Mario Martinez. What grants history the stronger rating is that Mauro Rosales started the other two games. Erik Friberg will play more like an RCM/RDM against Club America due to the tactical shift in the lineup. Mau was a gamechanger.
Defensive Mid - Then
Osvaldo Alonso is the only name consistent across all four past lineups and the future one. Back in 2013 he was coming off a Best XI performance. Time is no longer on Ozzie's side.
Central Mid - Now
This is where we should see Andreas Ivanschitz lineup in the new 4-3-3. He will roam LCM/CAM spaces in the new lineup. Back then in the 4-4-2, the box-to-box CM saw Shalrie Joseph play twice and B-Rad the other two games. Andreas clearly has the edge.
Left Mid - Now
In 2013 the left mid was a wide player in a four man midfield. Now it is where Clint Dempsey makes his mark. Clint is better than Martinez/Steve Zakuani, by a lot.
Forward - Now
While not a direct tactical analog, Nelson Haedo Valdez will play as the TF (or wide right). In 2013 the "other" forward was Alex Caskey starting three times and Eddie Johnson once. If Johnson had filled only this role, history would be the winner, but his splitting time between the forward positions makes this comparison difficult.
Forward - Now
Yes, now this slot is Jordan Morris. He's just a rookie. Morris is still better than Sammy Ochoa who started twice at target forward, including in the win. EJ had the other two starts. This is close to a push.
Let's set aside the EJ vs. Valdez/Morris thing for a second. That might mean that only one of the two forward slots is better now. Without that the club is clearly better now at: CB, Ivanschitz, Dempsey and one of the two forwards (maybe both). Only two of the spots from 2013 are better than 2016 (Rosales and Alonso). The fullbacks could be argued (some SaH staff consider those spots even).
Overall the team that shocked Tigres and nearly beat Santos Laguna was worse than the one that takes the field against Club America. I'm saying there's a chance.