A heartbreaking late concession nixed Seattle Sounders FC’s dreams at the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, as the Rave Green fell 1-0 to Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly in the tournament's Second Round.
Saturday's match at Tangier's Ibn Batouta Stadium was locked in a scoreless deadlock until the 88th minute, when Al Ahly midfielder Mohamed Afsha found the decisive breakthrough with a deflected finish after his initial shot rang the crossbar.
The result eliminates Seattle after one match at the prestigious tournament, which they were competing in via a historic 2022 Concacaf Champions League title – Major League Soccer's first-ever team to reach this global stage. Meanwhile, African regulars Al Ahly advance to a Feb. 8 semifinal bout vs. Spain's Real Madrid.
Seattle were moments away from reaching extra time until Al Ahly's wild late sequence. After second-half substitute Danny Leyva's turnover in midfield, Seattle looked to have dodged a scare when Afsha's initial shot beat goalkeeper Stefan Frei and hit the crossbar. But Afsha's follow-up opportunity took a wicked deflection off right back Alex Roldan, sealing the result.
- 88' - AHL - Mohamed Afsha
- THE BIG PICTURE: Al Ahly, undefeated through 15 games of their Egyptian Premier League campaign, were always going to have a fitness advantage compared to the Sounders' preseason stage. That said, Seattle gave themselves more than a fighting chance at reaching what would have been a historic Semifinals matchup against Real Madrid. It shouldn't take away from the milestone moment for the club and league, but given the competitive nature of the match, it still feels like a missed opportunity for Brian Schmetzer's group.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: There's no question about this one. This was anyone's game until Afsha's goal sealed Seattle's fate.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: With that in mind, Afsha is the easy choice here. Al Ahly have now reached three straight semifinals at the Club World Cup.