The Seattle Sounders are on the brink of making history, as they have a golden opportunity to become the first MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League since it rebranded and restructured in 2008 (Concacaf Champions Cup winners: LA Galaxy, 2000; DC United, 1998). This year, the Sounders have been dubbed by many as the ‘favorites’ going into the final two legs of the competition. Whether that is true or not, the Sounders have most definitely been dealt a major advantage — in the form of match fitness.
Below, I have listed the times and dates of Pumas’ upcoming match schedule. Note — if you’re a Sounders fan, it should make you happy.
Saturday, April 23: Chivas Guadalajara vs Pumas UNAM, 7 p.m. PST
Wednesday, April 27: Pumas UNAM vs Seattle Sounders, 7:30 p.m. PST
Sunday, May 1: Pumas UNAM vs Pachuca, 10:00 a.m. PST
Wednesday, May 4: Seattle Sounders vs Pumas UNAM, 7:00 p.m. PST
Simply looking at Pumas’ upcoming schedule should give you a sense of optimism. The Sounders should have a clear fitness advantage in comparison to Pumas, especially considering the Sounders’ match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (which was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 30) was postponed to a later date. But guess what? It gets even better when you look at the context behind the Liga MX matches Pumas have scheduled through the next couple of weeks.
Pumas’ matches against Chivas and Pachuca fall on an incredibly important part of the Liga MX season — the final two match-weeks of the regular season. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if Pumas comfortably sat in a playoff position leading up to this point, but “comfortable” is the exact OPPOSITE term that I would use to describe their situation. A more appropriate term I could use to describe Pumas’ playoff chances would be DESPERATE. With two matches to go, Pumas sit in 11th place with 19 points accumulated. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs and Pumas are a mere 1 point above “the line.” To say their matches against Chivas and Pachuca are crucial would be an understatement. Final note — Pachuca is in a race for first place, meaning they will be throwing everything at Pumas on May 1.
As I said previously, the Sounders should have a CLEAR fitness advantage going into the CCL finals. They were gifted a 7-day rehabilitation period that their opponents don’t have the luxury of. Pumas will be forced to decide where to throw their resources — The Liga MX Clausura playoffs or the CCL final. It seems pretty clear to me that they will prioritize a CCL title, but regardless, their Liga MX situation is certain to take its toll.