They wouldn't fall victim to the same fate in 2022, as Seattle bagged a dominant 5-0 victory in Leg 2 of their Round of 16 series against FC Motagua at Lumen Field on Thursday night. The result punches Seattle's ticket to the CCL quarterfinals where they'll take on Liga MX side Club Leon.
While their 2022 campaign is still just getting started, midfielder Cristian Roldan said that when he looks at his team's roster, he sees a group with the necessary depth to make a deep tournament run.
"I think having a deeper roster is number one, and I think we have that this year," Roldan said. "Being able to balance both MLS and Champions League at the same time, it's a lot of games, a lot of travel.
"So we're going to rely on guys coming in and out of the lineup. And I think that's the most important thing. I think our front office did a really good job of bringing back so many good players, making our roster really deep to be able to compete in tournaments like this during the regular season. We're built for the longevity of the season, but now we have to put it together on the field."
That depth was on full display Thursday night, as all five of the Sounders' goals came from a different player.
Two of those came from veteran contributors who missed most of the 2021 season with injuries: Standout playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro and homegrown winger Jordan Morris. Lodeiro netted a 33rd-minute opener before Morris added a crucial second goal just after the second-half restart, setting the Rave Green on their way.
"Jordan Morris is like a new player because he didn't play a lot last year," head coach Brian Schmetzer said. "Nico Lodeiro is like a new player this year. Obviously you guys understand Albert Rusnak is a big player and a big signing for the club. I think we've improved the roster, one from outside of the club, but two internally from the club."
It sets up a compelling quarterfinal matchup, as the Sounders now have a rematch with a Club Leon side they played in last year's Leagues Cup Final in Las Vegas. The Liga MX side won by a 3-2 scoreline.
The memory of that defeat still lingers, Schmetzer said. But he believes it will only motivate his men as they begin preparations at the chance of rectifying that disappointing result.
"Leon is a very, very good team. I thought in that final in Las Vegas against them, I thought we played well," Schmetzer said. "We were within inches of scoring the second goal and maybe that changes the outcome of the game. They have very talented players. I actually really enjoyed scouting that team; I think their coach is a very good coach."
"But, again, tonight after the game as we were discussing our performance, I actually mentioned that there might be a little bit of revenge," he added. "We can use this as, 'Hey, look, last year we did not complete the objective, which was to win Leagues Cup and beat Leon, so now can we use a little bit of that as motivation?' Maybe. Sometimes that's maybe just coaches talking. I think the group in there fully understands the importance of Champions League and they certainly respect and understand Leon's quality. So, we will prepare for them like we always do and our club always, always wants to win every game, every competition we enter."