Sounders FC is back at it on Tuesday when the club welcomes Club Tijuana of Liga MX to CenturyLink Field for an international friendly.
With one eye on the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League that's set to start Group Stage play in August, the Sounders wanted to play an exhibition match with the type of team they'd see in that tournament. Enter Club Tijuana, or Xolos as they are also known.
Calling the match from the radio booth will be Sounders legend Marcus Hahnemann who provides his thoughts on the fixture below in the latest Off-Camera Observations.
On the idea behind the friendly with Xolos:
We need to have something that simulates the Champions League and where we really want to go. We want to be the best team in our region. It really makes sense because Club Tijuana is awesome. They’re playing well in their league, they’re flying – it’s great. It’s a different style of play. It will be a good chance for us to play some of the younger guys who don’t get enough playing time.
It will be really interesting for me to see these young guys. Dylan Remick, Cristian Roldan and Aaron Kovar are the main three guys that I want to watch tomorrow to see how well they do.
A soccer game is a soccer game. All these guys have played in front of people before, but this chance to play in front of a big crowd and against a good opposition – the more times you do that, the more relaxed you can become.
On the players who haven't played CCL matches before:
For Kovar, who didn’t get a chance to play much last year, and Roldan, these are really big opportunities. Yes, there’s a different style of play with these games compared to how it would normally work. You play your First Team with the best team you can for 45 minutes, barring injuries, and then you switch people in. But it’s still a good gauge in how you’re going to be able to control the game. That’s what they’re probably going to be pretty good at: controlling the game.
From some of the reports I read, I think they play a little bit of a counterattack style. And that’s not unlike a bunch of teams in MLS, where they kind of try to suck you in. They’ll sit back, they’ll let you have the ball and play with it, and then they’ve got a couple of quick guys that they’ll hit on the break. We do that with Oba quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say that’s our style of play. It’ll be a pretty good test for us.
On the importance of the Champions League for the Sounders:
Everybody wants to test themselves against the best competition. You look at Europe, and you say the best leagues in the world are in Europe. But whatever you want to say, it’s about your region, and our league is getting better all the time. Teams are getting stronger. But our best competition is Mexico. That’s our neighbor. Our top teams need to be able to beat their top teams.
It is just a friendly, but it’s still that next test to see where we’re at.
In the Champions League there are home and away games. It’s a great tournament. You’re playing completely different styles of teams, teams that you know nothing about, too. Sometimes it’s hard to find information on the team you’re playing against. It’s not like playing another team in your league.