The Seattle Sounders are one game away from a final.
The Western Conference leaders face Santos Laguna on Tuesday night in a Leagues Cup semifinal (10 pm ET | ESPN2, TUDN), emerging as the last MLS team in the annual cross-league competition. They confidently dispatched Tigres UANL 3-0 in a mid-August quarterfinal to get here, while their Liga MX opponent beat Orlando City SC 1-0 at the same stage.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer has already impressed how seriously they’re taking this opportunity, as has star midfielder Cristian Roldan. And when previewing the game on Extratime, co-host Matt Doyle said he expects the matchup to only fuel Leagues Cup’s long-term potential.
“Moments like that are going to make it big over time,” Doyle said of the Tigres win. “And I think that there is a good chance that if Seattle win this game and then win the final and hoist this trophy, obviously it will be a big moment in that moment. But we could end up looking back on it three years from now being like, 'That was actually huge. That was bigger than we realized at the time.'”
Leagues Cup launched in 2019 with Cruz Aul winning, then the COVID-19 pandemic forced 2020’s version to be canceled. Yet this go-around, excitement continues to build around the impending final on Sept. 22 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The other semifinal contains Liga MX sides Club Leon and Pumas UNAM.
The Sounders have enough quality to navigate a tournament of this magnitude – those like goalkeeper Stefan Frei, center back Yeimar Gomez Andrade, forward Raul Ruidiaz and midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro and Joao Paulo all hold veteran status. That backbone, which has already imposed its will against the defending Concacaf Champions League winners, could spark them forward yet again.
“This is a window right here for Seattle and I think they showed it in the quarterfinals, how much it can mean to them,” co-host David Gass said. “I think you look at a team that's capable of dictating the pace of play in the game against Liga MX clubs, which has not always been the case for MLS teams. So I think this is a pretty big moment for them.”
Seattle also enter with confidence after a 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC at Lumen Field this past weekend. They’re fighting off Sporting Kansas City and Colorado atop the West standings, which if done successfully will procure a Round One bye in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
That quest will resume Saturday night at Real Salt Lake (9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), but first comes a Leagues Cup opportunity they’re certainly not glossing over.
“If you look at the way they took it seriously against Tigres as well, I think that would probably tell you something," co-host Calen Carr said. "You don't just put that much into it and then sort of back off at the next round."
For more Extratime analysis after a jampacked Week 24, check out the entire episode here.