It will be a clash of styles when Seattle Sounders FC make their Club World Cup debut against Egyptian side Al Ahly in Tangier on Saturday, the Major League Soccer team’s goalkeeper Stefan Frei said.
The Sounders, who are the first team from the United States to compete in club soccer’s global finals, secured their place in the tournament after their title-winning run in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.
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The winner between the Sounders and Al-Ahly will play LaLiga giants Real Madrid in the semifinals, but Frei said the Sounders know they have work to do first against Saturday’s opponent to set up a historical clash with the UEFA Champions League winners.
“We definitely don’t look past Al Ahly. They are a very experienced team in this tournament, but if we do find ourselves moving forward, it would be incredible,” Frei said.
“For an MLS team to have the opportunity to play against arguably the best team in the world for something meaningful is a privilege, it’s an honour.
“We sense that and we want to win against Al Ahly so that we can showcase our skill against such a huge opponent.”
Frei and defender Alex Roldan said the team will be physically ready to compete despite having played just two friendlies since their disappointing 2022 MLS campaign wrapped up in October without a postseason appearance for the first time in club history.
“The offseason was crucial and players were professional about it,” Frei said. “From what I saw I was very impressed. Guys came in very sharp, very fit, and hungry.”
The Sounders opponents Saturday, who have finished third in the previous two Club World Cups, easily beat Auckland City 3-0 on Wednesday.
In the rest of the draw featuring the club champions from each continent, home favourites and African champions Wydad Casablanca tackle Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in their second round tie on Saturday. The victor in that fixture will meet Brazilian outfit Flamengo in the semifinals.