Salem Radio Network News Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sports

Soccer-Sounders say MLS teams can compete ‘any given day’ with Mexican clubs

(Reuters) – The Seattle Sounders ended the Mexican grip on the CONCACAF Champions League to reach the continental mountaintop, a victory the MLS side hopes will usher in a new era where the battle for regional supremacy is more balanced than ever before.

Seattle beat Pumas 3-0 at home on Wednesday for a 5-2 aggregate triumph in the CONCACAF Champions League final that made them the first MLS team to win the modern incarnation of a tournament that has been dominated by Mexican sides.

The Sounders hope their breakthrough will open the floodgates for other MLS clubs looking to emulate their feat and feel the talent exists at other clubs to make it happen.

“Look, we’re a good team, we spent a long time building this thing. But there’s a lot of good teams in this league,” said Seattle General Manager Garth Lagerwey.

“There’s a bunch of good teams and that’s the whole thing, we’re level now with the top Mexican clubs. The top MLS clubs I believe can compete on any given day with anybody in Mexico, and you just couldn’t say that five years ago.”

In Wednesday’s game, played before a CCL-record crowd of nearly 69,000 fans, Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz scored twice for the Sounders before Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro put the game away when he slotted home a rebound in the 88th minute.

As the top team in the region, the Sounders will head to the FIFA Club World Cup, something no other MLS club has achieved.

“We are the symbol, we’re the tip of the spear, we pushed through, we finally did it, we vanquished the demons,” said Lagerwey.

“But everybody’s welcome. We want a crowded mountaintop up here. We don’t want to be up here by ourselves.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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