Bittersweet Club World Cup ends for Seattle Sounders, MLS

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

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 afterwards to concede a goal in the 88th minute to Al Ahly’s substitute, Mohamed. Magdy.

The Egyptians will now face Los Blancos, the 14-time European champions, in the final four on Wednesday (2 p.m. 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 all over Al Ahly from the start at the Ibn Batouta Stadium. That Brian Schmetzer’s team was able to take the game to a quality foe (Al Ahly finished third in the last two Club World Cups) was somewhat surprising; By the time the first half ended, Seattle had recorded eight shots against their opponent.

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

“I thought we were good, I thought we were even, [had] a couple of chances,” Schmetzer said on the FOX Sports broadcast afterward.

The Sounders would rue those missed opportunities later.

… but fitness was a factor in the loss

This 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 for 118 days since the 2022 MLS regular season ended at the beginning of October The club hosted a pair of friendlies in Spain before flying to Morocco, but with the new MLS season not scheduled to begin until the end of the month, Seattle was in plenty of preseason form against an opponent in the middle of the its own national campaign. .

Not converting those first-half chances came back to haunt the Sounders, who predictably began to run out of gas as the clock ticked toward the 90-minute mark. Al Ahly were in complete control of the final 15 minutes of regulation time. Had Magdy not scored late, the Sounders would have struggled to keep pace for an extra half hour of extra time. They might have been able to take the contest to penalty kicks, but the disparity in fitness between the sides was the difference in the end.

Missed opportunity for Sounders, MLS

Considering all they faced, Schmetzer’s team gave a respectable account of themselves and MLS as a whole. Perhaps they were a bit unlucky though, to be fair, Magdy did 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 hang around a little longer. Facing Real Madrid in an elimination game at a major tournament is not the kind of opportunity that comes along often for American teams, especially American and Canadian teams. It would have been a feather in MLS’ cap and another step forward for an ambitious and growing circuit. Seattle was about to get there. So close. Alas, it was not to be.

“The deflection in the goal is unfortunate,” said Schmetzer, who could not hide his frustration at the defeat but still had only praise for his squad.

“They put everything on the line.”

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.

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