Brian Schmetzer: Seattle Sounders needed to showcase our best against Tigres

Brian Schmetzer could have rationalized fielding a rotated lineup for the Seattle Sounders' Leagues Cup quarterfinal matchup against Tigres UANL at Lumen Field on Tuesday evening.

With his team battling a downturn in form and contending with a congested schedule, Tuesday's contest could have been used as an opportunity for Schmetzer to rest his stars and turn to their crop of young homegrowns.

Instead, Schmetzer rolled out his first-choice XI, a gambit that paid off to the tune of a resounding 3-0 victory over the Liga MX giants in front of a raucous home crowd.

"Our team, I didn't have to say anything before the game. We are blessed to have great players. This club has always spent money on the players who fit the culture of the club," Schmetzer said after the match. "We're a humble club, we work, we try to achieve great things and we're always trying to win. That is part of why our decision to put a strong lineup out there tonight against a very good Tigres team, it was important for us, it was important for this club.

"It's important for us to showcase the players that we have."

The result carried significance for Seattle outside of their punched ticket to the Leagues Cup semifinals.

Star playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro announced his much-anticipated return with a spectacular 30-yard golazo in the 70th minute that capped off the scoring for Seattle. The Uruguayan standout has been sidelined for nearly all of the 2021 season with a knee injury, with his reintroduction delivering the Sounders a perennial Best XI talent back into their attack.

Lodeiro said that beating Tigres gives Seattle a much-needed boost after they'd come back down to earth over their last five matches, going 1W-3L-1D following their record-setting start to the season.

"When you play a team of this magnitude like Tigres, a team from another league, a victory like this certainly brings back confidence," Lodeiro said through a translator. "We needed this very much. We had lost some points, even at home, then the match versus Dallas where we feel like we deserved [a win] but got unlucky with a tie.

"That can take confidence away," he continued. "So, this was important. We controlled the match from the beginning and I don't remember seeing many opportunities by Tigres, so that's why this brings back the confidence. We just need to make sure we keep our focus and don't lose our focus on MLS and don't get confused that this is already the end."

It was the type of win that can have a galvanizing effect, which the Sounders will hope holds true as their hectic MLS schedule won't let up anytime soon. Up next is a massive Cascadia Cup derby against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday (8:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes).

As for whether the Leagues Cup triumph will re-instill some confidence ahead of the Timbers match, Schmetzer downplayed the notion that it was ever shaken to begin with. Rather, his biggest takeaway is that Seattle are mentally ready to take on the rigors and grind of the rest of the season.

"The narrative is not so much did this win boost the confidence of the team," said Schmetzer, "but rather I would say that this win solidifies a belief that we understand what MLS is all about, we understand we're not going to win every game, we understand going 13 games unbeaten — we understand that was at some point was going to come to an end.

"But we also understand that this club has good performances in them, that the players are confident and that's what I would say the storyline is."