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Monterrey looked quite sharp in the last Clausura phase of Liga MX. They finished the league stage at the top of the table, winning 13 of their 17 league stage matches. However, the club lost in the playoff semifinals against their rivals Tigres UANL. They were in the playoffs during the Apertura phase as well, but once again failed to lift the trophy. The 2023-24 Apertura season has commenced recently, and Monterrey are in great form so far, winning two of their three games, and drawing the third. As things stand, they are second in the standings.
In contrast, Seattle Sounders’ journey in the MLS last year was not enjoyable, as they failed to make the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time, snapping their 13-year streak. The Washington side ended the 2022 season with poor away form, failing to win any of their last nine away matches. In the current MLS season, the club have made a decent recovery and could be title contenders. They are currently fourth in the Western Conference, having won 10 of their 24 games and accumulating 36 points.
The encounter between these two strong sides will be quite unpredictable. However, the pressure is on the Seattle Sounders, who have to win by a big margin if they want to qualify. That pressure coupled with Monterrey’s overall team strength could be too much to handle for the MLS side.
This will be the fifth encounter between Monterrey and Seattle Sounders, as the two sides have met each other four times in the CONCACAF Champions League. Monterrey have the better record as they have won three of those games, leaving Seattle Sounders with a solitary victory.
The two teams met twice in the group stage of the 2010 CONCACAF Champions League. Monterrey won the away fixture 2-0 before winning the home leg 3-2. Aldo De Nigris managed to get on the scoresheet in both games.
The next two encounters came in the very next edition of the same competition. However, this time Seattle Sounders nabbed a surprise 1-0 win in Monterrey’s backyard before faltering at home to lose 2-1.
Monterrey have started the new Apertura campaign in an almost perfect manner. Only three games have been played in their domestic league so far, but the club is sitting comfortably in second place.
Trying to replicate their domestic league form, they also began their Leagues Cup voyage with a win against MLS side Real Salt Lake. Now the club is just one positive result away from the knockout round of the tournament.
Monterrey have never taken cup competitions lightly. The five-time Liga MX champions are one of the most successful clubs in the Champions League, as they have nabbed five titles. They narrowly missed out on the Clausura title last season and will be eager to add another trophy to the cabinet by winning the Leagues Cup.
Rogelio Funes Mori, one of the most dangerous attackers in Liga MX, leads Monterrey’s prolific attack. The Argentina-born Mexican joined the Rayados in 2015 from Portuguese giants Benfica. The 32-year-old has scored 13 goals last season and has gotten off the mark this season as well.
The club has also recently signed Sergio Canales from Real Betis. The 32-year-old has over 300 games under his belt in La Liga with clubs like Real Madrid, Valencia, Real Sociedad, and Betis over the last five years and is expected to bolster the right flank with his presence.
The arrival of Canales has certainly increased Monterrey’s attacking prowess down the right flank, but on the left side, the club are still without Arturo Gonzalez. The 28-year-old picked up a knee injury last month.
Gonzalez was a pivotal player in the Monterrey squad during the last Clausura campaign, scoring 6 goals and bagging 2 assists in 17 appearances. The winger is expected to be back in a few weeks and he will certainly miss the match against Seattle Sounders.
Sunday’s match against Monterrey is a must-win game for the MLS side if they want to stay alive in the 2023 Leagues Cup. The defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake was not a complete surprise, but the 3-0 scoreline was a setback to a team that has been struggling recently.
Manager Brian Schmetzer has to come up with quick solutions after his side’s poor run of form. Despite their poor form, the loss against Real Salt Lake was the worst performance by his side this season.
Before the Leagues Cup, Seattle Sounders were beaten by San Jose Earthquakes, which was followed by a draw against FC Dallas. This was followed by another defeat in the opening game of the Leagues Cup. They are without a win in their last three games now.
First-choice goalkeeper Stefan Frei suffered a finger injury during the last match and will miss the game against Monterrey. The shot-stopper had to undergo a minor surgery, but he will not be sidelined for a lengthy period.
However, in the next crucial match, Stefan Cleveland is expected to start between the sticks for the two-time MLS champions. Cristian Roldan is also doubtful ahead of the game after the midfielder suffered a concussion against Real Salt Lake.
The Seattle Sounders house a lot of talent in the attacking department. However, it is unfortunate that none of them have stepped up to the plate this season. Jordan Morris has the highest tally with nine goals in the MLS this season and is competing for the Golden Boot.
Raul Ruidiaz is next with only four to his name while Leo Chu has been quite creative with seven assists and three goals in the MLS. However, none of these players could create anything in the last match. Heber, who joined Seattle Sounders in December 2022 from New York City FC has also been disappointing. The Brazilian has managed to score only two goals since his arrival.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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