CCL: Despite new format, Sounders still feel travel crunch

Sigi Schmid

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TUKWILA, Wash. – The new CONCACAF Champions League format was designed in part to help limit travel. The Seattle Sounders may beg to differ.

Although they’ll have to take one less road trip in this year’s group stage, the two they’ll be making almost make up for it. They know for sure that they’ll take a trip to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to play Marathón, which is about 3,000 miles from Seattle. And that will actually be the shorter of their two trips, as whichever Caribbean team they draw will require a one-way journey of approximately 4,000 miles.

“Travel for us is always the biggest component,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said after Wednesday’s training session. “We’re coming from as far northwest, with the exception of Alaska, that you can come from the United States and going all the way down southeast if we have go down to Trinidad, or Puerto Rico, or Antigua. It’s about as far as you can go, as well. It’s not going to be a vacation. It would be nice if it was.”

The Sounders do have plenty of experience with long trips – this will be their third straight CCL appearance and they have yet to play an opponent from either the United States or Canada. Unlike the previous two years, though, the room for error is almost non-existent, as only one of the three teams in their group will make the quarterfinals.

“It will be even more difficult,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said. “We have to win three games for sure to make it through. That’s going to be difficult, especially playing away at those two places.”

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.