UPDATE 10:57 p.m. — The Sounders have done it. They are the first MLS team to beat a Mexican opponent in the CCL kn0ckout rounds. Here is our game story from the 3-2 aggregate series triumph. Take a look at the updated history below.
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The format to the CONCACAF Champions League was changed before the 2008-09 tournament, and since then, no MLS team has ever beaten a Mexican team in the knockout rounds.
0 for 5.
2008-09 — Atlante def. Houston Dynamo (4-1 aggregate)
2009-10 — Toluca def. Columbus Crew (5-4 on aggregate)
2010-11 — Monterrey def. Real Salt Lake (3-2 on aggregate)
2011-12 — Santos Laguna def. Sounders FC (7-3 on aggregate)
2011-12 — Santos Laguna def. Toronto FC (7-3 on aggregate)
2012-13 — Sounders FC def. Tigres UANL (3-2 on aggregate)
It is worth noting, of course, that one of those teams was Canadian, particularly since the rivalry in question is kind of blurred between USA/Mexico and MLS/Mexico.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was asked after Sunday’s practice if the chance at history is brought up leading into Tuesday’s second leg against Mexico’s Tigres UANL (Seattle trails the series 1-0).
“It’s something that gets mentioned,” Schmid said, “but it’s not something we lay our whole preparation around. I think they know. It’s important for us as a league. It’s been a while since a U.S. team has won this tournament; obviously (a U.S. team) has never won this tournament under the new format. It’s just a matter of us trying to get one step further.”
Michael Gspurning said beating the top team in Mexico would definitely send a message.
“There is always that rivalry between the Mexican and U.S. teams in soccer,” the goalkeeper said. “It’s like the rivalry with the German and Austrian teams, so it’s a huge one. It would be a great sign for U.S. soccer if we can beat the Mexicans because (in Mexico) it’s just soccer there. It would really hurt them and we want to make this possible.”
(As an aside, I asked Gspurning if an Austrian team had even beaten a German team in an important competition. His response: “There is just one — 30 years ago or 40 years ago. Maybe it’s better to compare it to the rivalry between Dutch teams and German teams.”)
Forward David Estrada said that it would be “awesome for our team to pull an upset” against the best team in Mexico. Recognition for MLS teams, he added, has come slowly, but it’s getting better.
“The past few years I think American teams have gone down there and proven themselves,” he said. “We saw what Houston did (in the first leg), and hopefully they can do a little bit better than we did last year at Santos. But I think it’s growing and I think we’re going to have a good chance on Tuesday.”