The Seattle Sounders make their FIFA Club World Cup debut on Saturday, with Egypt’s Al Ahly preventing the MLS side from reaching the semi-finals.
Brian Schmetzer’s side will take on Al Arley after the Egyptian side defeated New Zealand’s Auckland City 3-0 in their first-round opener in Tangier, Morocco on Wednesday. The winner of Saturday’s contest will face the toughest test in Morocco, with UEFA Champions his league winners Real Madrid going up against the Sounders or Al Aari.
Hussein El Shahat scored a goal for Al Ahli at the Ibn Batota Stadium just before half-time as Mohammed Sherif and Percy Thaw sealed the second-half victory. Al Ahly has his 3rd place finish in the FIFA Club World Cup and his 42nd win in the Egyptian Premier League.
The Sounders qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup after beating Liga MX side Puma 5-2 on aggregate in the Concacafe Champions League final last April-May. An MLS club won the CCL title for the first time in tournament history.
Despite winning the CCL title, the Sounders struggled with consistency in the MLS and failed to reach the league playoffs last fall. Schmetzer has some key players for Morocco, including Raul Ruidias, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Rodeiro and Cristian Roldan.
Brazilian forward Heber was the only player the Sounders acquired this offseason.
On the other side of the bracket, Morocco’s Wydad AC will take on Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Saturday, with the winner taking on Brazilian heavyweight Flamengo on February 7th.
Real Madrid have won the competition four times, but all the remaining teams are looking to lift the FIFA Club World Cup trophy for the first time.