Monday, March 5, 2012

Sounders set for CONCACAF opener

Time to Take On the World

The long-awaited opportunity is here. Offseason preparations and preseason training camps have come and gone, and a new-look Sounders FC is set to perform on the international stage.

The big show begins on Wednesday night as Seattle hosts Mexico's Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.

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Tickets for the quarterfinal are available at, by calling 800-745-3000 and the CenturyLink Field Box Office as well as all Ticketmaster outlets.

Entering uncharted territory in the quarters, Seattle will continue a quest started in late-July of last year in front of 700 fans in Panama City. The pursuit continued in the group stage as Sounders FC impressed, clinching a spot in the knockout round as well as a coveted win on Mexican soil.

The series with Santos continues a week later on March 14 when Sounders FC visits Torreon, Mexico for the second and deciding leg.

Now Sounders FC sits just six games from unprecedented success on a global scale. The winner of the two-leg, aggregate goals series will advance to face the winner of LA Galaxy-Toronto FC in the semifinals, with the victor securing a spot in the finals.

The winner of the Champions League tournament advances to the FIFA Club World Cup where the six continental champions plus the host nation champions battle for the title of world's top soccer club. Current Cup-holder Barcelona has won the competition two of the past three years.

A busy March rolls on as Seattle kicks off its fourth MLS season with three home games on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC hosts Toronto FC in the league opener on March 17, and Houston and San Jose visit the Emerald City later in the month.

Tack on a potential Champions League semifinals match at the end of March and Sounders FC could play six games in the first 24 days of the season.

Eighteen weeks to the day since the boys from Seattle last walked off the pitch they will kick off against Santos Laguna, same stadium, same playoff intensity. First kick not only signals the start of the new season, but, fortunately for the Sounders FC faithful, Wednesday night means the wait is finally over.
Reach Aaron Weinberg at