Seattle Sounders seek statement and more history in Leagues Cup Final

Between Wednesday's Leagues Cup Final in Las Vegas and Tuesday's announcement of the expanded format that will see every team from both leagues participate in a reimagined tournament starting in 2023, rivalry talk surrounding MLS and Liga MX has shifted front and center in recent days.

For Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer and his players, the objective becomes putting all that external noise to the side. All they're focused on is topping Club León in Las Vegas and delivering the club their first-ever international trophy (10 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN).

"For our organization first, this is a very big match," Schmetzer said at his pregame press conference. "Then I would say for the players, playing against a good León team in an international final, for the players it's a big match. And then finally third for MLS, for me that's the third reason why this is a big game.

"Our club comes first, our players come first and then we will see which league is better on the evening tomorrow."

Still, the chance to make history is always an added element whenever it presents itself. Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who was part of the 2016 team that won Seattle's first-ever MLS Cup title, said the moment's significance isn't lost on his teammates before they compete at sparkling Allegiant Stadium.

"It certainly makes it more exciting because it's something that has never really been done before, at least in our case, and then playing against a really good Mexican side adds a little bit of that flair to the final to the game, being in Las Vegas, so it's something I think we all enjoy," Roldan said.

"Hopefully we can get a good result, but at the end of the day it's really nice playing in a beautiful stadium in a beautiful city and hopefully we can have good memories after the game."

Ultimately, the intention is that Wednesday's match is just the start of something bigger. The expanded Leagues Cup format for 2023 is still a long ways off, though Roldan said from a player's perspective, the increased stakes only add to the budding dynamic between the leagues.

The expanded Leagues Cup will see both MLS and Liga MX pause their regular seasons for the month-long event, with three Concacaf Champions League spots on the line.

"Overall I think [the new format] is going to be a great opportunity for multiple MLS teams and multiple Mexican sides to come together and form rivalries," Roldan said. "At the end of the day that's what we want in football, we want to see good games, we want to see rivals come out of it.

"Personally I like the format, it adds a lot to the rivalry between both leagues and the fact that there's a lot at stake is really important. That's what makes the prestige of a tournament really special and the fact there's Concacaf Champions League spots on the line is what makes it a bigger tournament, for sure."