This Seattle Sounders team has treated us to some incredibly historic moments in recent years and is on the cusp of yet another one. They have a tough hurdle to get over first with the defending MLS Cup champions playing at “home”, but head into the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinal with a 3-1 lead on aggregate. Here’s what you need to know:
Health of Chanot, Moralez
Last week when NYCFC travelled to Seattle for the first leg, they were without defensive stalwart Maxime Chanot and midfield maestro Maxi Moralez. That’ll be the case tonight in the return leg at “home” for NYCFC. Neither have been fit enough to train this week and NYCFC’s head coach Ronny Deila confirmed this week that Moralez and Chanot will not feature tonight.
NYCFC home away from home
Even the most casual of Major League Soccer followers know how embarrassing of a stadium situation NYCFC finds themselves in. This is their seventh year in MLS and they’re still playing most home games at Yankee Stadium. But Concacaf refused to approve the stadium, meaning this match needed to move to their nearest rival’s stadium, Red Bull Arena. Over the last two years, NYCFC has gone 8-4-1 as the home team at Red Bull Arena, with many of those happening behind closed doors because of Covid-19.
Importance of getting road goal
The Sounders played the defending MLS Cup champs off the park last week at Lumen Field, but NYCFC managed to get a cheap away goal to make it 3-1. That means that NYCFC could win 2-0 tonight and advance to the final. However, getting a road goal means that NYCFC would need to score at least four goals to win the game without it going to penalties. Reminder, there’s no extra time tonight. If the match ends in a 3-1 NYCFC victory tonight (4-4 on aggregate) the winner will need to advance on penalties.
Pumas awaits in the final
We obviously don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but UNAM Pumas punched their ticket to the final last night after a 0-0 draw, advancing 2-1 on aggregate over Cruz Azul. It wasn’t without some wild CCL-ness. Starting CB Arturo Ortiz was sent off in the 63’ minute with a straight red card, meaning he’ll miss the first leg of the final. Pumas even had a pretty clear penalty overturned by some VAR funkiness. Pumas last made a CCL final in 2005. The winner of the MLS semi will host the second leg of the final.
What Nouhou’s return can mean
Everyone on the roster besides Yeimar is fit, including Nouhou. It’s expected that Nouhou will slot in at left back. Kelyn Rowe obviously did a fine enough job last Wednesday in the role, but Nouhou is a much better defender and a more natural left back than Rowe. With the obvious objective of needing to prevent NYCFC from scoring first and foremost, Nouhou’s defensive ability will be a huge boon for the Sounders.