Sounders FC enter tonight’s match with Marathon, safe in the knowledge they have already qualified for the elimination stage which starts next March.
However, there is still some incentive to win due the the rules governing the draw for the next stage.
The top eight teams will qualify for the next stage in which 1st seed will play 8th, 2nd plays seventh and 3rd plays 6th.
Monterrey will almost certainly be top seeds although fellow Mexicans Santos Laguna can eclipse them with a four goal win at home to Toronto. Those two Mexican giants are certainly teems to be avoided by the MLS contingent. Santos hammered six past Sounders FC earlier this year.
A Seattle win would guarantee them at least third overtaking Costa Ricans Herediano who eliminated Real Salt Lake last night.
The tie break rules dictate that sides equal on points are split by goal difference, then goals scored then goals away from home, followed by most wins and finally most away wins.
A draw means that they can be caught by LA Galaxy, Costa Ricans Alajuelense and Guatemalan side Xelaju although the latter two sides would have to score heavily, needing four goal wins.
A 4-1 would be enough for Xelaju if Sounders draw 0-0 but not if Sounders draw 1-1 or higher. Sounders have two away wins with six away goals. Xelaju would equal the latter but drew an away game at the W Connection.
There is even better news for the Sounders. Both the sides chasing them have to travel to Mexico, facing sides who need to beat them to survive. Xelaju visit Guadalajara and Alajuense face Tigres.
No Mexican side has missed out on the quarterfinals since the tournament went to the group format for the 2008-09 season so Sounders should not expect either of their rivals to rack up big wins. Neither Mexican side can catch them.
So a draw should well be enough to guarantee a top four place.
Should Sounders lose, all is not lost. Toronto can catch them with a win but they cannot finish top of their group without eliminating Santos Laguna. Consequently only one of Toronto or Santos Laguna can finish ahead of Seattle since they play each other.
Herediano would stay ahead of Seattle. LA Galaxy would over take them with a win. 5th would be Sounders’ likely finishing scenario but even that would only see them play fourth, very probably Herediano.
So there are few bad consequences for the Sounders. They can only finish seventh in an absolute worst case scenario which necessitates Sounders losing and two away sides winning in Mexico.
If LA Galaxy, Alajuense, Xelaju win away from home, Sounders will finish seventh and play the side finishing 2nd. One of Santos Laguna or Toronto will finish ahead of Sounders. Herediano and Monterrey will remain ahead.
If Sounders draw, the picture is broadly similar except two of the least likely away wins, also have to be of a massive margin and they will finish above Herediano making at least sixth definite and 4th probable. Galaxy failing to win at Isidro would increase those positions by one.
Should Sounders win, they will finish 2nd or 3rd.
|Combined CCL Standings|
|6||Real Salt Lake * (E)||4||2||1||1||3||1||2||7|
|11||Municipal * (E)||4||2||0||2||4||6||-2||6|
|14||Marathón * (E)||3||1||1||1||4||4||0||4|
|15||Puerto Rico Is… *(E)||4||1||1||2||4||7||-3||4|
* These teams are already eliminated due to not finishing top of their group.
Santos Laguna v Toronto
Sounders FC v Marathon
Tigres v Alajuelense
Guadalajara v Xelaju
Isidro Metapan v LA Galaxy