The Seattle Sounders head into the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League final against Pumas on the precipice of history.
But the Sounders arguably represent Major League Soccer's best chance yet of finally producing a winner. In the likes of Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz, the Rave Green have top-class players with major trophy-winning experience with this club. Their roster is deep, full of quality, and know-how when it comes to big games and big moments.
But even with all their experience as Playoff juggernauts and regular top seeds in the Western Conference, the Sounders are well aware this particular game is a little different. The weight of history in favor of Mexican clubs is that much heavier.
"The team's fine. I mean, look, are they anxious for the game to come? Yes," Head coach Brian Schmetzer said ahead of Wednesday's first leg in Mexico City. "I think they want to play, maybe anxious is the wrong word. I think they're excited for the game to finally come. I think they've been thinking about this game since the draw at NYCFC that put us through."
DP forward Albert Rusnak added: "Everyone’s aware of the situation and how big this opportunity is. It doesn’t come around too often and it’s another final. That’s what we play for as players, so we have to clear our minds about the last couple of weeks and especially the last game. This is a different competition, a competition we’ve been solid in so far. That’s the goal, that’s what ultimately will win us the championship."
Taking Seattle's stature as a club aside, their opposition in the final makes this an even bigger opportunity.
No Liga MX club can be underestimated, especially given MLS's record against their continental rivals. But after finishing 11th in the Apertura, Pumas currently sit 12th in the Clausura standings and barely look set to qualify for the liguilla stage.
This final could be seen as a chance for Pumas to salvage a miserable season and they'll be aware of the Sounders taking just seven points from their first seven games of the 2022 MLS season.
"We'll give our best and we know we have to be concentrated all the time because after all, Pumas also wants to win," said Lodeiro. "They also know the importance of this tournament. The point is that we know the importance, we are prepared and we're going to show it and give it tomorrow when we play the match."