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The keys to the Seattle Sounders exit from the Club World Cup

The MLS team were eliminated from the tournament after losing 0-1 to Egypt’s Al Ahly and miss the opportunity to face Real Madrid in the semi-final.

Estados UnidosUpdate:
Las claves de la eliminación de Seattle Sounders vs Al-Ahly en el Mundial de Clubes 2023

We have seen proof of how the MLS is growing in recent seasons - North American soccer is taking steps forward and that was underlined last year when the Seattle Sounders beat Pumas to win the Concacaf Champions League. But on Saturday, the Sounders bowed out of the 2023 Club World Cup, eliminated by Egyptian side Al-Ahly in Tangier.

Unfortunately for the Sounders and coach Brian Schmetzer, they miss out on a place in the semi-final, where their rivals would have been Real Madrid. A meeting with the 14-time Champions League champion would have given the franchise even more exposure than their opening game against the Confederation of African Football (CAF) representatives.

Keys to Seattle Sounders’ elimination against Al Ahly

Sounders, rusty from inactivity

Schmetzer’s team looked rusty. They went into the tournament as the first MLS representatives in a Club World Cup in history, yet they had not played an official game since 9 October - almost four months ago, when they were held 2-2 by San Jose and effectively waved goodbye to a place in the the playoffs. They warmed up for the Club World Cup with a couple of friendlies which didn’t inspire confidence - a 0-0 draw with Wolfsberg and a 2-3 defeat to Hammarby.

Tired in the second half

The Sounder enjoyed the greater possession in the first half but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. As the game wore on, the team started to tire and cede territory to the Egyptians. While they never really looked under threat, it took away from the possibility of creating chances of their own at the other end.

Conceding a late goal

With their energy sapped and unable to keep hold of the ball, the Sounders gifted Al Ahly time and space in and around the box. They were punished late in the game and without time to get back in it. Mohamed Magdy’s volley on 87 minutes appeared to be heading wide but took a deflection off Alex Roldán and bobbed past Stefan Frei and inside the post to make it 0-1.

Late reaction from Schmetzer

Although he made a couple of changes to refresh his team, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer left it too late to give his attack a boost. It was only after his side had gone a goal down that he desperately introduced Freddy Montero and Héber dos Santos with the game practically over.


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