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Five things we’d like to see when Sounders host Club León

The CCL quarterfinals are a rematch of last year’s Leagues Cup final.

Leagues Cup 2021: Final - Club Leon v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders host Club León tonight in a rematch of last year’s Leagues Cup final. Since that game, the two teams have been heading in opposite directions. León rode the momentum of that win all the way to the Liguilla final and once again find themselves battling near the top of the Clausura table. The Sounders did win their next four league games after that loss, but have since gone 1-5-5 in all competitions.

Here’s what we’re hoping to see tonight:

Go for two

This will mark the ninth time in their 14 MLS seasons that the Sounders have hosted a Liga MX opponent in an actual competition. They’ve gone 5-3-1 in those games, including three straight wins. Given that record, beating Club León hardly seems out of the question. But if the goal is to actually advance, chances are the Sounders need to do more than simply win. History tells us that in order to advance, the Sounders probably need a multi-goal victory that gives them some cushion for the return leg next week. The Sounders have done that once before — against Tigres in 2013 — which also happens to be the only time they’ve knocked out a Liga MX opponent from CCL play. - Jeremiah

Defensive solidity during attacking rotation

The Sounders are obviously experiencing a less-than-ideal start to their MLS regular season while they deal with injuries and rotation in their attack, but a bright spot so far this season is how the defense is stacking up. The goal they conceded over the weekend to Real Salt Lake happened after a 2+ hour weather delay in hilarious conditions, and Nashville scored on their lone chance of the game.

The attack very well may rotate and struggle against León, but if the Sounders can keep a clean sheet they’ll be in decent shape for the return leg, when they’ll hopefully have more attacking options. - Mark

Learn from experience

Whatever you may think of the Leagues Cup as a competition, part of the reason it exists is to give MLS teams added reps against Liga MX opponents. Given that, it’s hard to imagine last year’s experience coming in any more handy than this: Tonight’s opponent is the same León the Sounders faced about six months ago in the 2021 final. Although Brian Schmetzer tried to play that off as not being much of an advantage — and, to be fair, that experience goes both ways — at the very least the Sounders know exactly what they’re up against. They know León are lethal on the counter but can be broken down through possession. The Sounders were inches away from taking a two-goal lead in that game. There’s no reason they can’t be a few inches better in this one. - Jeremiah

A + C Roldan connection

With the aforementioned offensive struggles, the Sounders will need to find a way forward to create some goals. It’s likely Nicolas Lodeiro won’t play tonight and we know Raúl Ruidíaz will miss out. Albert Rusnák is still settling in and trying to find his best position while Jordan Morris is still coming off a long-term injury. So what do the Sounders do to find a way forward in the attack?

Rely on the Roldan Brothers. Early last season the Sounders were in a similar-but-not-as-bad attacking situation, and the combo of Alex and Cristian on the right side of the field helped spark the attack. It’s likely that Cristian will start at right midfield tonight, so they can combine for goals. - Mark

Let Fredy shine

No one seems to enjoy playing in international competitions more than Fredy Montero. Dating to his first days as a professional, Montero has tallied 17 goals across five different international competitions for five different teams and in seven different countries. That includes a franchise-best six goals in CCL for the Sounders. Montero clearly loves this part of the game and there might not be anyone better suited to help lift the Sounders out of their doldrums than the Colombian. - Jeremiah