By the 17th minute, Brian Schmetzer was on the sideline waving his arms up and down, a gesture he’s used this season to tell his Sounders players to “quiet” or calm down.
It looked like Schmetzer was fanning the flames on Wednesday. The Sounders packed Lumen Field for the 2019 MLS Cup victory, but the experience did not dampen the emotions for the CONCACAF Champions League final against Pumas UNAM.
An expected sold-out crowd materialized into a tournament record 68,741 fans engulfed in a shared overload of adrenaline and emotion. How a player calms down in this atmosphere is an unsolved mystery.
Instead, Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz and midfielder Nico Lodeiro ramped up the power at full power to claim a 3-0 victory over the Pumas. The result pushed Seattle’s aggregate score to 5-2 to win the Champions League title.
No MLS team has won the regional trophy, with the Sounders being the fifth to advance to a final. The tournament has been dominated by the Liga MX teams, who have won the last 13 games under the current format. The Pumas were the last Mexican team to lose in a CONCACAF final, the last in 2005.
The latest being Wednesday. As well as making Sounders and league history, Rave Green won $500,000 and a place in the FIFA Club World Cup, likely to be played in 2023. English Premier League, is the defending champion of the Club World Cup.
“That means everything,” said emotional Sounders goaltender Stefan Frei in a TV interview after the win. “It’s a Wednesday and we’re packing this place with 68,000 people. The passion is so strong in this city and we appreciate it. I’m so happy for everyone that we’re able to achieve this for them.
It’s a childhood dream come true. A sold-out stadium that’s there to cheer you on. Ultimately, it’s about winning trophies. We want to win trophies, and today is a big one.
The fire was genuine and artificial to start the final CCL action on the ground at Lumen Field.
Both the US national anthem and the boom-boom-clap tradition of Sounders fans were synced with a pyrotechnic display that ranged from swirling fire to a ring of sparklers on the outermost circle.
From the opening whistle, the players took over with fiery games and clashes. Ruidiaz set things on fire with his first goal in the 45th minute. The build-up was from a free-kick, with centre-back Xavier Arreaga tapping a forward pass to Ruidiaz, who was in the center of the box, the Peruvian beaming a right-footed shot on goal that deflected a player and made twisted Pumas goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. wrong way to attempt to make the backup.
Seattle outscored the Pumas 8-2 in the first half.
Ruidiaz’s brace was a fine build, with Lodeiro patiently waiting to send Ruidiaz in for the goal in the 80th minute. Lodeiro followed the play with his own shot off a rebound in the box. He received a yellow card for taking off his shirt.
The Sounders were the ones to suffer violent altercations in the first half as left-back Nouhou (11th minute) and defensive midfielder Joao Paulo (29th minute) were substituted with apparent injuries, the latter being transported on a stretcher in the hallways of the stadium for assessment. .
The first words on the injury were that Joao Paulo injured his right knee while Nouhou suffered a right quad kick. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer is expected to provide more updates after the game.
The CCL Finals is the first time this calendar season that the full roster of Sounders first-choice players have started a game together. The absences, either through injury or international duty, meant midfielders Kelyn Rowe and Obed Vargas, who replaced Nouhou and Joao Paulo, had already built chemistry with the others and made appearances in CCL in the first laps.
Pumas are known for their comebacks but didn’t find any scoring chances on Wednesday. Frei deflected his best chance in the 65th minute, a Diogo header.
The visitors had Mexico international centre-back Arturo Ortiz back from suspension for accumulating yellow cards. They were without defender Alan Mozo with a leg injury.
Seattle returns to MLS on Saturday with a road game against FC Dallas.