Club América is in the driver's seat for this two-leg series. That is entirely the result of their performance in the Group Stage (earning a higher seed) and nabbing two away goals from the feet of Peralta and Quintero. Seattle Sounders FC will need to do something quite rare to advance -- win in Mexico. It isn't an insurmountable task, but one that should not be expected.
SaH: What does the huge loss to Tigres mean for the midweek game?
ER: From a physical standpoint, America has been from Mexico City to Seattle to Nuevo Leon and now back to Mexico City. This is a difficult stretch for the players, and expect some rotation in the squad. Psychologically, that loss to Tigres had to sting. A win would have put America into a tie for third with Leon, but the loss - and how it occurred - has to increase the doubts in the minds of the players. Things absolutely fell apart shortly after America scored in the 69th minute. Tigres scored in the 72nd on a goal that Moises Munoz should have saved, and then a red card to Pablo Aguilar for a handball in the box in the 73rd minute lead to a penalty which was converted. After that, Tigres scored two more, captain Rubens Sambueza went off with a shoulder injury, and William da Silva was red carded. That sort of implosion is a lot to rebound from, especially on a short week.
SaH: Club America will look to X as a sign they can win on Wednesday?
ER: Club America needs to keep Clint Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso in check. They allowed the duo too much freedom in the first leg, and Dempsey was able to score a brace off of this. If they can keep these guys off of the scoresheet, then the advantage should fall squarely to the home side. Something else they must do to win is have one of their stars score. Dario "Pipa" Benedetto, Miky Arroyo, and Darwin Quintero have zero league goals (although Quintero scored in Seattle), and Oribe Peralta can't carry the load forever - especially on a team this deep. One last thing is to keep all eleven men on the field. It's simple yes, however something America seems to repeatedly have trouble doing.
SaH: Is there something that Seattle can take advantage of in Azteca?
ER: The short answer is no. The Azteca is a formidable place to play. Mexico City is almost 2000 feet higher in elevation than Denver and almost 7000 feet higher than Seattle. It's capacity is just shy of 100,000 - although I'd expect attendance to be closer to 30,000 for this match. The only thing that Seattle has going for it in the Azteca is that the mystique is crumbling. It's no longer the impenetrable fortress it once was. That's true not only for the United States MNT but for clubs coming to play against America there as well. The last MLS team that went there was the Montreal Impact, who drew Los Aguilas 1-1 in the CONCACAF Champions League Final last year. Since then, America also was blown out by UNAM Pumas in the Liga MX 2015 Apertura semifinal 3-0 that coincidentally also saw two America players red carded. They've been 8-9-1 at home since the last CCL tournament ended, so perhaps there's just enough of the tarnish gone that Seattle can pull out a favorable result.