The Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders took care of business on Saturday afternoon, riding a first-half Joao Paulo goal to 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC at Lumen Field.

There’s little time to rest, though.

Head coach Brian Schmetzer’s team is right back at it Tuesday evening in their Leagues Cup semifinal against Liga MX side Santos Laguna (10 pm ET | ESPN2, TUDN). They’re the last MLS team left standing in the second-year competition, with the winner facing either Club Leon or Pumas UNAM in a Sept. 22 final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Seattle were emphatic in their quarterfinal matchup against Tigres UANL, a 3-0 win that was punctuated by a long-range golazo from Nicolas Lodeiro. And Schmetzer expects them to put a strong foot forward yet again.

“That is an important game for the club,” Schmetzer said. “Santos Laguna is already here in Seattle. They flew after their game in Tijuana. They’re already here, they’re taking it very seriously. And we are taking this game very seriously. I know Adrian [Hanauer] and the owner of Santos are good friends. But believe me, we are going to be ready for Tuesday.”

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With players back from September’s World Cup qualifiers, Schmetzer should have more first-choice options ready from the jump. Golden Boot presented by Audi leader Raul Ruidiaz (Peru) and center back Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) didn’t feature against Minnesota upon return from Conmebol fixtures, while midfielder Cristian Roldan (United States) and fullback Alex Roldan (El Salvador) came off the bench after featuring in Concacaf ones.

Seattle also saw center back Nouhou Tolo return from a long-term absence, as did goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The latter could prove especially important, as he’s played a crucial role in the Rave Green making four of the last five MLS Cups (winning in 2016, ‘19).

“It’s just such a pleasure to be back on the pitch and an honor to be back on the pitch for the squad,” Frei said. “I don’t take this for granted at all; I think it’s really special. I love the group that we have. We have a very skilled group and I’m excited for what we can achieve with this group.”

The Sounders also steadied their home form, winning a regular-season game at Lumen Field for the first time since a July 7 matchup with Western Conference strugglers Houston Dynamo FC.

Schmetzer acknowledged the brief lull, but also expressed confidence his players can navigate out of it. Any opportunity to prove their mettle, like in Tuesday's Leagues Cup test against one of Mexico’s biggest clubs, is approached with professionalism.

“Every game matters to us and that’s just the message I reinforce because, look, MLS is weird,” Schmetzer said. “It’s hard, there are things we don’t control. And so for us to have a blip, for us to have a little bit of a dip in form at home, I don’t have the answers.

“But what I do know is that group of players in there is committed for every single game. And as long as they commit for every single game and every single competition – look, we have to be okay with the results sometimes. They’re not always going to go our way, that’s pro sports. But I was very proud of them to figure out a way how to close that game out because Minnesota put us under pressure in the second half.”

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