The Seattle Sounders are hosting Uruguayan side Club Nacional de Football on Wednesday in the first international friendly of 2019. Here’s everything you need to know:
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT at CenturyLink Field (TICKETS).
WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on JoeTV and YouTube TV.
WHERE TO LISTEN: The match will air in Spanish on El Rey 1360 AM.
RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Club Nacional finished as the 2018 Primera División runners-up, succumbing 2-1 to Peñarol in the championship final. The Sounders finished the 2018 regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but were eliminated on penalties by the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Semifinals.
FINAL TUNE-UPS: The Sounders have just two more matches left — Nacional on Wednesday and away at the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday — before they kick off the 2019 MLS campaign with a home fixture against expansion side FC Cincinnati on Saturday, March 2 (7 p.m. PT; FS1 | TICKETS). The visitors are in a similar situation, as the latest edition of the Primera Divisíon kicked off on Feb. 16.
A HOMECOMING OF SORTS: Sounders FC Designated Player Nicolás Lodeiro came through the Nacional youth academy, playing a key role with the First Team in the Uruguayan Primera Divisíon and Copa Libertadores before transferring to Dutch juggernaut Ajax in January 2010.
Nouhou sports the captain's armband as he drives past an FC Dallas player | Mike Fiechtner
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN: For the first time in 2019, the Seattle Sounders will take the pitch at CenturyLink Field. The team kicked off its preseason with a couple of training sessions at Starfire before jetting off to Orange County, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz., for the first two phases of preseason.
A CENTURY OF DOMINANCE: Celebrating its 120th year of existence, Nacional has collected 157 titles since its inception at the end of the 19th century. The Montevideo powerhouse has lifted the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup trophies three times each, in addition to winning 46 Uruguayan top flight championships.
NOTEWORTHY ALUMNI: In addition to Lodeiro, Nacional has developed some of the best players to represent the Uruguayan national team, including FC Barcelona forward Luis Suárez.
ONES TO WATCH: Nacional forward Seba Fernandez has terrorized Uruguayan back lines for the past five years, snagging 42 goals from league play. A poacher capable of finishing with both feet, his movement in the box and set-piece prowess make him a nightmare for defenders. Their first-choice goalkeeper, Esteban Néstor, is a grizzled veteran of South American soccer, as he’s plied his trade for big clubs in Chile and Uruguay throughout the past decade.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Throughout the First Team’s preseason, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer has heavily integrated the top talents from Sounders Academy and Tacoma Defiance. Danny Leyva, a 15-year-old box-to-box Defiance midfielder, started and played 90 minutes against the Portland Timbers. His teammate in Tacoma, 18-year-old attacking midfielder Marlon Vargas, supplied the assist to Handwalla Bwana for Seattle’s lone goal in the 2-1 defeat. With the Sounders’ final preseason match in San Jose slated for three days after the Nacional friendly, the kids could get an opportunity to make their debuts at CenturyLink Field.
COMPETITION FOR PLACES: After three televised friendlies, it’s safe to say that there will be competition for starting spots all over the pitch. Harry Shipp was composed and clean throughout the Tucson trip, linking play and setting the tempo with his passes. Second-year Homegrown midfielder Bwana scored against Portland and played an integral role in Nouhou’s goal against FC Dallas, dummying Henry Wingo’s low cross, which enabled the Cameroonian defender to finish at the back post.