Just about six months ago, Seattle Sounders and Club León met in the Leagues Cup Final, with the Liga MX team winning 3-2. Since then, the two teams have gone in mostly opposite directions. The Sounders faded down the stretch of their season, while León charged to the Liguilla final. They are going strong in the current season as well. Hosting the first leg should be a small advantage for the Sounders. It lets them attack to start, flowing forward as they do when at the best that hasn’t shown up for a time prolonged by the offseason.
The soccer aspect of the tournament is less significant than the violence that took place at Querétaro when they hosted Atlas. Tuesday night’s match here in Seattle will be the first competitive match featuring a Liga MX team since those dozens of confirmed injuries and countless other wounds.
Sports are supposed to be about community. Ideally they are about bringing different peoples together in peaceful contest. On Saturday night those ideals were violated. Tuesday night they must be brought back — rivalry without hate; competition without confrontation.
For FMF State of Mind and in nearly a decade of friendship, Eugene answers Two Questions.
SaH: With the tragedy at Querétaro, how will anyone with León be able to think about soccer?
FMFSoM: I truly don’t know. Mexican soccer is a kind of small community. Current León players Gil Burón and Stiven Barreiro played for Querétaro and Atlas respectively, while Jesús Godínez was on loan at León in 2021 before going to Querétaro this season. Godínez was on the bench during the game and was teammates with a lot of the players who are on León now, giving another link of familiarity to this.
My colleagues who cover soccer in México have been in a state of shock since the incident. Some simply couldn’t cover the other games played that night. I’m an outsider and I had a hard time concentrating on the game I was supposed to be covering, finding myself doomscrolling while play was happening. If I’m this far removed from the situation, I can’t imagine how a player will be able to shake it off and concentrate.
SaH: A much less important question. León comes to Seattle for the CCL playing well which player or two should Sounders fans focus on?
FMFSoM: Under normal circumstances, Rodolfo Cota is an excellent goalkeeper and features for the Mexican National Team while Víctor Dávila and Ángel Mena are a potent combination up top. But with the events of the past weekend looming large over everything (it’s been all over the Mexican news and has gotten international attention as well), you couldn’t blame any of the players if they have lapses in concentration and aren’t playing at their best level.
There is no reverse.