SEATTLE — In the 17th minute, Brian Schmetzer was on the sideline waving his arms up and down, a gesture he’s used this season to tell his Sounders players to “quiet” or calm down.
It looked like Schmetzer was fanning the flames on Wednesday. The Sounders packed Lumen Field for the 2019 MLS Cup victory, but the experience did not dampen the emotions for the CONCACAF Champions League final against Pumas UNAM.
An expected sold-out crowd materialized into a tournament record 68,741 fans engulfed in a shared overload of adrenaline and emotion. How a player calms down in this atmosphere is an unsolved mystery.
Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz and midfielder Nico Lodeiro fired up the electricity at full power to claim a 3-0 victory over the Pumas. The result pushed Seattle’s aggregate score to 5-2 to win the Champions League title.
No MLS team has won the regional trophy, with the Sounders being the fifth to advance to a final. The tournament has been dominated by the Liga MX teams, who have won the last 13 games under the current format. The Pumas were the last Mexican team to lose in a CONCACAF final, the last in 2005.
The latest being Wednesday. As well as making Sounders and league history, the Sounders won $500,000 and a place in the FIFA Club World Cup, likely to be played in 2023. Premier League club Chelsea FC England, is the defending champion of the Club World Cup.
Sounders goaltender Stefan Frei was named tournament MVP and finished with 25 saves and four shutouts. Cristian Roldan led with five assists.
“It means everything,” an emotional Frei said in a TV interview after the win. “It’s a Wednesday and we’re packing this place with 68,000 people. The passion is so strong in this city and we appreciate it. I’m so happy for everyone that we’re able to achieve this for them.
“It’s a childhood dream come true. A sold-out stadium that’s there to cheer you on. Ultimately, it’s about winning trophies. We want to win trophies, and today is a big one.
The fire was genuine and contrived to start CCL’s final action on the ground at Lumen.
The US national anthem and boom-boom-clap tradition of Sounders fans were synchronized with a pyrotechnic display ranging from a swirling fire to a ring of sparklers on the outermost circle.
From the opening whistle, the players took over with fiery games and clashes. Ruidiaz set things on fire with his first goal in the 45th minute. The build-up was from a free-kick, with centre-back Xavier Arreaga tapping a forward pass to Ruidiaz, who was in the center of the box, the Peruvian beaming a right-footed shot on goal that deflected a player and made twisted Pumas goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. wrong way to attempt to make the backup.
Seattle outscored the Pumas 8-2 in the first half.
“There was a good resolve within the group,” Schmetzer said of the halftime vibe in the Sounders locker room. “We changed a few elements in our attacking moves, so the half was calm. Right now (post-game) it’s probably happening.
Ruidiaz’s brace was a fine build, with Lodeiro patiently waiting to send Ruidiaz in for the goal in the 80th minute. Schmetzer winked at midfielder Albert Rusnak for his composure to help retain possession and execute the passing sequence for goal.
Lodeiro followed the play with his own shot off a rebound in the box. He received a yellow card for taking off his shirt.
The Sounders were the ones to suffer heated altercations in the first half as left-back Nouhou (11th minute) and defensive midfielder Joao Paulo (29th minute) were substituted with apparent injuries, the latter being transported on a stretcher to the halls of the stadium for evaluation. .
According to Schmetzer, Joao Paulo suffered a torn right ACL while Nouhou has a bruised right quad. The stars still joined in the celebration, with Joao Paulo pumping his crutches into the air as confetti shot into the sky as the players lifted the trophy.
The CCL Finals is the first time this calendar season that the full roster of Sounders first-choice players have started a game together. The absences, either through injury or international duty, meant midfielders Kelyn Rowe and Obed Vargas, who replaced Nouhou and Joao Paulo, had already built chemistry with the others and made appearances in CCL in the first laps.
Pumas are known for their comebacks but didn’t find any scoring chances on Wednesday. Frei deflected his best chance in the 65th minute, a Diogo header.
The visitors had Mexico international centre-back Arturo Ortiz back from suspension for accumulating yellow cards. They were without defender Alan Mozo with a leg injury.
Pumas have qualified for their league playoffs and will face Chivas on Sunday.
Seattle returns to MLS on Saturday with a road game against FC Dallas. The Sounders (2-4-1) are 26th in the league’s 28-team Supporters’ Shield table. The club also opens the US Open Cup next week.
“There will be more success after our success,” Schmetzer said of MLS teams in CONCACAF. “Give me six months. Let me pass Dallas, pass the Open Cup game at Starfire, which is going to be a big deal. Let me go through some of these games and maybe I can think a little more.