Egyptian side Al Ahly SC defeated the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday in the quarterfinal of the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup behind a goal from Afsha in the 88th minute.
The two sides entered halftime scoreless. The Sounders had the better of the chances in the opening 45 minutes, with a Nicolás Lodeiro right-footed volley coming the closest as it skipped past the near post.
Josh Atencio made the start in defensive midfield alongside Albert Rusnák, and Atencio recorded the first shot on goal for either side in the 51st minute when he unleashed an effort from just outside the box.
Al Ahly nearly took the lead in the 69th minute when a shot from the top of the box just nearly went wide of the post.
Ragen gets the nod
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer turned to his second-year center back to start in center defense alongside Yeimar. The 24-year-old Seattle native looked poised, picking up where he left off after a strong rookie showing in 2022 in which he made 14 starts in 23 appearances.
João Paulo returns
Nine months after tearing his ACL in the match that ultimately sent the Sounders to the FIFA Club World Cup, João Paulo returned to competitive action on Saturday. After earning 45 minutes in a preseason friendly against Swedish side Hammarby IF in Spain last week, the Brazilian central midfielder came on as a second-half substitute against Al Ahly. João Paulo will still need to be eased back into full match fitness, but his return is a promising sign as Seattle heads into the 2023 MLS season.
MLS season awaits
After making history as the first MLS side to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup, the Sounders now turn their focus to the start of the 2023 domestic campaign. Seattle will host the Colorado Rapids at Lumen Field on Feb. 26 (5 p.m. PT; Apple TV, FS1 | TICKETS) in the MLS season-opener.