Bittersweet Club World Cup ends for Seattle Sounders and MLS

There will be no Seattle Sounders-Real Madrid semi-final at the FIFA Club World Cup as Rave Green’s stay at the tournament in Morocco is over after just one game.

Despite dominating Egypt’s Al Ahly in the first half of Saturday’s quarter-final in Tangier, the Sounders – the first Major League Soccer team to enter the competition – were unable to score, losing 1 -0 after conceding an 88th-minute goal to Al Ahly substitute Mohamed. Magdy.

The Egyptians will now face 14-time European champions Los Blancos on Wednesday in the last four (2pm ET, FS2, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app).

Here are three quick thoughts on Saturday’s game.

Seattle had its chances…

The Sounders were everywhere in Al Ahly from the start at the Ibn Batouta stadium. That Brian Schmetzer’s side could face a quality opponent (Al Ahly finished third in the last two Club World Cups) was somewhat surprising; by the end of the first half, Seattle had recorded eight shots against that of its opponent.

The bad news for Sounders fans – a few hundred of whom made the Travel 5,500 miles to watch their side in person – was that they weren’t able to capitalize on any of them. All eight efforts in the first half were off target. Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Albert Rusnák each missed glorious chances in the opening 45 minutes. Josh Atencio forced a save from Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohammed El Shenawy early in the second half, but it was the only shot on goal for either side until winner Magdy deflected from the foot of Seattle fullback Alex Roldán.

“I thought we were good, I thought we were even, [had] some chances,” Schmetzer said on the FOX Sports show afterwards.

The Sounders would regret those wasted opportunities later.

… but physical condition was a loss factor

It was always going to be a tough game for the Rave Green. Seattle, which failed to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs last season for the first time in its history, had not played a competitive game in 118 days since the end of the 2022 regular season of the MLS in early October. The club’s brass held a few friendlies in Spain before flying to Morocco, but with the new MLS season not expected to start until the end of the month, Seattle was in full pre-season form against an opponent in middle of their own national campaign. .

Failing to convert those chances in the first half came back to haunt the Sounders, who began to run out of gas as time neared the 90-minute mark. Al Ahly perfectly controlled the last 15 minutes of regulation time. If Magdy hadn’t scored late, the Sounders would have struggled to keep up the pace for an extra half hour of extra time. Maybe they could have gotten the penalty shootout contest, but the fitness disparity between the teams made the difference in the end.

Missed opportunity for Sounders, MLS

Considering everything they faced, Schmetzer’s team gave a respectable account of themselves and MLS as a whole. They may have been a bit unlucky, although to be honest Magdy beat Seattle defender Stefan Frei but not the crossbar just before his goal.

Still, after becoming the first MLS team to finally reach the Club World Cup after two decades of futility, it’s disappointing they couldn’t stick around a bit longer. Facing Real Madrid in a knockout match at a major tournament isn’t the kind of opportunity that often presents itself for North American teams, especially the American and Canadian ones. It would have been a feather in the hat for MLS and another step forward for an ambitious and growing circuit. Seattle was about to get there. Very close. Alas, that was not to be the case.

“The deflection on goal is unfortunate,” said Schmetzer, who couldn’t hide his frustration at the loss but had nothing but praise for his side.

“They put it all in the game.”

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Prior to joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer at ESPN and Yahoo Sports and covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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