For the third straight year, the Sounders will be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League, often referred to as the CCL. In previous years the Sounders have done extremely well in the tournament, but have failed to bring home any hardware. While the Sounders main focus is MLS league play, many of the subs and reserves will see minutes in these games. With the depth and youth talent that the Sounders have acquired, this could prove to be an advantage.
The team has put together a talented squad every season, but the one thing that they have lacked in previous seasons has been youth players with endurance. This season, the Sounders have put together a great core of young players including Alex Caskey, Andy Rose and Cordell Cato who will be able to run over tired opponents. Along with these young players, the Sounders still have a great group of seasoned veterans to run the show in the first leg of games, and hopefully build a big enough lead to leave the second leg to the youngsters.
It seems as if it is the perfect time for the CCL to start for the Sounders. The team has just added Christian Tiffert, and reportedly are in talks with Honduran Mario Martinez. Steve Zakuani has just made his long-awaited return, and Gspurning has finally recovered as well. Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales, and Fredy Montero are all showing great form and creating chances for the team. The addition of more games is bittersweet to the Sounders as the players will be more fatigued, but more games also creates the opportunity for players to emerge from the reserves.
Last season, the Sounders made history by becoming only the second team in MLS history to win a competitive match on Mexican soil. The 1-0 victory over CF Monterrey came as a shock to many, but only proves how great the Sounders can really be. The team has great odds of advancing far into the tournament, and it will be exciting to see how things pan out. The Sounders play their first CCL match on August 2nd against Caledonia AIA from Trinidad & Tobago, and hope to start off their Champions League campaign on the right foot.