TUCSON, Ariz. – If you look around the world, you will find different distinct styles of play to match the varying cultures of each country.
It is no different between the US and Mexico and while the Sounders are preparing for a grueling MLS schedule ahead, they also have a keen eye toward their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Tigres UANL beginning March 6 in Monterrey, Mexico, and concluding March 12 at CenturyLink Field.
To help prepare for that crucial series, the Sounders will meet Mexican second division club Veracruz in a friendly on Friday at Kino Sports Complex.
“It’s important for us to try and get 90 minutes. That’s important for a lot of players. We’ve got to look at certain things as well,” Schmid said. “The other thing for us is we want to see how we play against a team that plays a style and a rhythm that normally gets played in Mexico.”
That style typically is more possession-oriented, but tends to be more unbalanced and features attacking outside backs that often leave just three players on the back line.
The Sounders have faced Mexican opponents that play that style in Champions League before with mixed results. In 2010, they faced eventual champions Monterrey in the group stage and lost both meetings. In the first match at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders were done in by a potent Monterrey attack and fell, 2-0. Back in Mexico, though, Seattle took a 2-0 first half lead at Estadio Tecnologico and looked poised to be the first MLS team to ever win a competitive match in Mexico. Then, Monterrey brought on superstar Humberto Suazo and changed the whole complexion of the game. After a four-minute barrage, a 2-0 lead quickly turned into a 3-2 deficit.
2011 was a different story though.
In August, the Sounders sent a mixed group of players to Monterrey to face Los Rayados, leaving Fredy Montero, Kasey Keller, Mauro Rosales and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado behind in Seattle. But the group was galvanized in their drive to upset the champions of Mexico. In the 38th minute, Alvaro Fernandez got the Sounders on the board and they would hold on for the victory, becoming just the second US-based team to win in Mexico after FC Dallas accomplished the same feat one week earlier.
Monterrey would come back and win the second match 2-1 at CenturyLink Field, but both teams advanced to the quarterfinals.
There, the Sounders met Santos Laguna as they started the 2012 season. Things looked promising coming out of the first leg of the series, when the Sounders got goals from David Estrada and Brad Evans to win the match, 2-1. The second leg was a different story. Santos scored two quick goals and Seattle pulled one back, trailing 2-1 at halftime of the match. However, Santos would pile on four second half goals to win the match 6-1 and the series, 7-3 on aggregate.
Overall, Seattle is 2-4-0 against Mexican opposition in Champions League play.
On Friday, they will meet a Veracruz side that has had an up and down season in the second division. In the 2012 Apertura they finished 12th at just 3-6-5, but they have already matched that win total in the 2013 Clasura, sitting unbeaten at 3-0-2 in the early stage of the season.
Kickoff is slated for 6 pm PT with a live blog on SoundersFC.com.