The Sounders are hoping their notorious home-field advantage makes for a different feel than they experienced in Leg 1, which saw them draw 2-2 in Mexico City. The club announced Tuesday that a crowd of over 67,000 is expected to attend the match, which would break the record for a CCL game at any stage. The previous record was 66,208 when Club América hosted Herediano at Estadio Azteca in a 2015 semifinal second leg.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at Seattle's final media availability before go-time, midfielder Albert Rusnak said they plan on being the aggressors come kickoff.
"I would expect us to come out on the front foot, especially having the fans on our side, they're going to keep pushing us forward," Rusnak said. "I would imagine a more attacking and more dominant game from us. Obviously we're fully aware of the fact that they're not going to come here and sit on in front of the edge of their box and kick long balls and all that. They will fancy themselves as well, which is something that we're fully aware of.
"But maybe the first few minutes of the game may be a little hectic, but at some point the game is going to slow down and the game is going to settle and there will be moments of possession for us to try to unlock that defense they played against us in the first game."
Being the home team in a match of this magnitude might present added pressure, yet head coach Brian Schmetzer feels past experiences will help them weather whatever adversity might surface. The last time Seattle hosted a Final in MLS Cup 2019 against Toronto FC, before 69,274 fans, the match held a tense 0-0 deadlock into the second half before an opening goal opened the floodgates to a 3-1 victory.
"We addressed in the locker room amongst the players, the players had conversations about it amongst themselves because there is some underlying pressure there being the home team in front of the home crowd," Schmetzer said. "If you remember the 2019 Final, there were many people who said that Toronto took it to us that first half. My viewpoint's a little different but I'm obviously biased. But when the first goal came, it was like everybody could relax and we played and jumped to a 3-0 lead. So, yes, that experience is going to help us. Yes, we did address it in the build-up and the preparation for this game."
As for Pumas, the Sounders know they're equally as motivated to win the regional title and book a FIFA Club World Cup spot. The Mexican side is coming off a 2-0 victory in league play that clinched their spot in the Liga MX playoffs, delivered by a pair of goals from Argentine forward Juan Ignacio Dinenno, who also tagged the Sounders for a brace in Leg 1. Dinenno has scored a CCL-leading nine goals.
Slowing down the in-form striker will be a top priority, with Rusnak adding there's danger all over the field Seattle must account for. Doing so means becoming MLS's first-ever CCL winner after four previous clubs came up short.
"It's what we saw in the first game, they love to cross the ball for the two guys up top," Rusnak said. "They're very good in the air. They have pace on the side and a solid backline with solid midfielders. It's a solid team, it's a good team, and there's got to be a reason why they're in a Final, you know, and not the teams they faced against.
"So I think especially at home they've been really good in the Champions League. But we're going to have to overcome them tomorrow and not just match their energy and effort and all they're going to do, but we're going to have to overcome it in order to beat them."