The Seattle Sounders FC might not have had the hottest start to their MLS season, but they like a team firing on all cylinders during Concacaf Champions League. Seattle topped Club León, 4-0 on aggregate, in the Champions League quarterfinals. They now move on to the semifinals and will face fellow MLS club New York City FC.
Seattle had a much more dominant road to the semifinals over New York, who barely won against Comunicaciones this week. New York and Seattle were on the same side of the bracket, while New England and Montreal, on the other side, fell to their Liga MX opponents.
Either way, an MLS team will feature in the Concacaf Champions League final. Furthermore, they will be guaranteed to face a Liga MX side.
Seattle punched their ticket after a 3-0 first leg at Lumen Field. On the road, in León, the Sounders scored once against the current seventh-place Liga MX side. Fredy Montero scored his third-straight penalty kick in three games for Seattle, after midfielder João Paulo won the penalty kick. The foul was given up by León defender William Tesillo.
Seattle was close to keeping the clean sheet, due to the hard work of Stefan Frei, who finished the night with seven saves. Frei stayed busy, making divine and leaping saves alike. However, in the 91st minute, Seattle lost their clean sheet as Fidel Ambríz found the back of the net. It was too little, too late, for León, as Seattle captured victory and is moving on in the tournament.
Seattle and New York City FC will face off in a home-away slate on April 5 and 12.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) March 18, 2022
Three Takeaways from Seattle vs. León
Stefan Frei does Stefan Frei things: Last year, Stefan Frei missed out on a chunk of the 2021 season due to an injury and some lingering issues from it. However, this year, he’s back in between the sticks and looking like the same goalkeeper fans have seen since his arrival in 2014. He’s been consistent — and this author has always been baffled by how Jürgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena and now Gregg Berhalter have never given him a solid U.S. men’s national team opportunity. Frei stood on his head tonight, making seven crucial saves. They couldn’t have moved on without him.
MLS semifinal: Well, partially. It’s not an all-MLS semifinal. Instead, the Sounders and New York City will face off. Given their performance in the semifinals against their Guatemalan opponent, New York City should be worried heading into Lumen Field. It’s going to be a tough bout, and Seattle will have the upper edge in confidence. This MLS weekend should be interesting, as Seattle takes on Austin FC and NYCFC will host Philadelphia.
Fredy Montero is on fire: When he’s on, Fredy Montero is on fire. He has been that in the last few matches for Seattle. Yes, his goals have been from penalty kicks, and yes, he had that own goal against the LA Galaxy. However, Montero has been a huge playmaker up top with the absence of Raul Ruidiaz. Of course, the Peruvian will start when he comes back. But Montero is showing exactly why Seattle wanted to keep him this past offseason.