History-making Sounders celebrate 'immortality', look forward to facing Liverpool or Madrid

By Sports Desk May 05, 2022

The Seattle Sounders are already looking ahead to taking on either Liverpool or Real Madrid after achieving "immortality" by winning the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Sounders beat Pumas UNAM 3-0 at Lumen Field on Wednesday to complete a 5-2 aggregate triumph and finally deliver a first Champions League title for MLS.

Seattle are the league's third CONCACAF champions but first in the Champions League era after a series of heartbreaks for rival clubs.

Two goals from Raul Ruidiaz and a late clincher from captain Nicolas Lodeiro sparked scenes of mass celebration in front of a raucous, record crowd of over 68,741.

Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders' general manager, gave Extratime his assessment: "Immortality. You get into sports for stuff people can never take away.

"This will be written down, it will be there forever. Hopefully it's the first of many."

Real Salt Lake, CF Montreal, Toronto FC and Los Angeles FC had each previously fallen at this final hurdle.

Now, for MLS, Lagerwey says, Seattle are "the symbol, we're the tip of the spear, we pushed through, we finally did it, we vanquished the demons".

"But everybody's welcome," he added. "We want a crowded mountaintop up here. We don't want to be up here by ourselves."

Playing just hours after Madrid had completed an epic semi-final fightback against Manchester City in UEFA's Champions League, Lagerwey could not help consider a Club World Cup clash with a European giant.

"We're going to play against Real Madrid or Liverpool in a real game for a trophy," he said, with Seattle's place in the tournament secure. "I feel like a little kid. This is the stuff you dream of."

The Sounders had already won two MLS Cups, a Supporters' Shield and four U.S. Open Cups, but this victory takes the club to another level entirely.

"I think we're going to become a global club now," the GM added.

"I've got to think my phone's got to start ringing once some people see what our fanbase, our building... it's as good a soccer environment as anywhere in the world. It just is. This is a pretty special place."

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    Jordan Henderson and the Champions League trophy will become well-acquainted again if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday – though he might not be allowed to take it to his local pub.

    Phil Thompson was the Reds' captain in 1981, when Liverpool also faced Madrid in a European final in Paris.

    A 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes ensured the trophy was going back to Merseyside once again following their successes in the European Cup in 1977 and 78.

    But this time there was even more of a local flavour to Liverpool's victory, with Thompson becoming the first Scouser to lift the trophy, and he was determined to make it a memorable homecoming.

    The UEFA delegate who handed him the cup might not have expected Thompson to take it to the pub, however.

    Alan Kennedy, who scored Liverpool's crucial goal in that final, told Stats Perform: "First of all, we knew that Phil Thompson had it, but we didn't know what he was going to do with it.

    "We thought he might take it in his car. What was it? I'm sure he had a Ford Capri at the time, and it was a souped-up one, if I remember rightly!

    "He put it on the front seat and everybody else had to get in the backseat and whatever. But he knew we had to look after it. He knew he was responsible for it.

    "I think the rest is history about going to some of the pubs in Kirby [a town on the outskirts of Liverpool]."

    There were no such stories after Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates returned to Merseyside victorious in 2019, with the trophy seemingly guarded with greater security these days.

    Though Thompson insists the cup never left his sight.

    "It wasn't a mission, it was always in my safe hands," he added. "I'd always planned that I was taking it back to the Falcon [a pub], I was taking it home to the Falcon in Kirby, so it's now become quite legendary.

    "I travel the country and they say, 'Is it a myth?' Or, 'is it true that you took the European Cup to a pub in Kirby?' And I did.

    "After we'd done the [parade] I put the European Cup in a big velvet bag in the back of the Ford Capri, an awful one, to the Falcon."

    Henderson will surely just be happy to get his hands on the trophy once again, even if bringing it to his local is out of the question.

  • Champions League final: Only Klopp stands between Ancelotti and immortality on night of destiny in Paris Champions League final: Only Klopp stands between Ancelotti and immortality on night of destiny in Paris

    There is a debate to be had that, even if Real Madrid lose Saturday's Champions League final at Stade de France and Carlo Ancelotti never lifts another trophy again, the Italian will still be able to stake a claim as being remembered as the greatest coach of all time.

    After all, he has already won 22 trophies across a managerial career spanning 27 years that has seen him coach 10 different clubs in five different countries. Indeed, he this month became the first coach to win each of the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and LaLiga.

    There is no questioning Carlo's credentials, then, but victory against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in Paris really would take the 62-year-old into 'GOAT' territory as the outright most successful coach in terms of major European honours.

    Ancelotti is currently level with Alex Ferguson and Giovanni Trapattoni in that regard with seven UEFA club competition triumphs – three Champions Leagues, three Super Cups and one Intertoto Cup, a much-derided competition that is now defunct.

    Many would suggest a better barometer of determining the true Greatest of All Time would be to simply look at how many Champions Leagues or European Cups, as it was formerly known, a manager has won. In that case, Ancelotti is level with Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane with three apiece.

    Triumphing for a fourth time in UEFA's showpiece competition, having previously done so with Milan in 2003 and 2007, and Madrid in 2014, would therefore set Ancelotti apart from the rest.

    The hugely experienced coach has a great record when it comes to Champions League finals, too, with victories in three of his previous four such matches. The only exception to that? In 2004-05 when Liverpool famously beat Milan on penalties in a game they trailed 3-0 at half-time.

    CARLO'S CUP PEDIGREE

    The glitz and glamour of a Champions League final was far from Klopp's mind in that campaign when in his fourth season in charge of Mainz. The 2004-05 season was just as memorable for the German club's supporters as Liverpool's, though, as they finished 11th in what was their first top-flight campaign.

    Seventeen years on, Klopp now has a shot at becoming one of 17 multiple-time winners of the European Cup/Champions League, level with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and even Manchester United great Ferguson.

    He went all the way with Liverpool in 2019, triumphing over domestic rivals Tottenham, but his previous two finals in the competition ended in disappointment, with defeat against Bayern Munich as Dortmund boss in 2013 and against Zidane's Madrid as Liverpool manager in 2018.

    Zidane may have been replaced by Ancelotti in the Madrid dugout, but this weekend presents Klopp – and indeed Liverpool – with a shot at redemption. Having won two trophies already with the Reds this season, Klopp's cup final record looks a lot better than it did just a few months ago.

    He has now won eight of his 18 finals, which compares to 16 victories from 22 finals for Ancelotti across all competitions. In percentage terms, Klopp has won 44 per cent of finals he has contested, while Ancelotti has won 73 per cent.

    A FAMILIAR FOE AWAITS

    Ancelotti and Klopp are no strangers to one another, of course, with Saturday's showdown set to be their 11th meeting in all competitions. Ancelotti edges the overall record from the previous 10 encounters with four wins to Klopp's three.

    Despite managing an Everton side far inferior to Klopp's Liverpool, Ancelotti lost just one of his three Merseyside derbies during his season-and-a-half in charge of the Toffees.

    That includes three successive games without defeat, culminating in a 2-0 win in February 2021 – Everton's first Anfield victory since 1999 and their first win either home or away over Liverpool since 2010.

    Ancelotti certainly had Klopp's number in the most recent of their battles, although the results of his two finals against English clubs in European competition have been mixed – the aforementioned shoot-out loss in 2005 and a 2-1 win two years later, both during his time with Milan and both against Liverpool.

    The Italian has certainly stood the test of time, with his 70 per cent win rate in his second stint with Madrid bettered only by the 75 per cent enjoyed the first time around in the Spanish capital, and now a shot at history – a fourth Champions League and an eighth European trophy – awaits.

    Against a familiar opponent in both Liverpool and Klopp, and in a city where he helped grow Paris Saint-Germain into a force to be reckoned with just over a decade ago, the stage is set for Ancelotti to further strengthen his claim as being the greatest of them all.

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    The need to rejuvenate Madrid's squad has been identified despite their LaLiga title win and progression to this season's Champions League final.

    According to reports, however, they should prepare for not having everything their way again, with a new player in mind.

    TOP STORY – PSG TO MAKE LATE PLAY FOR TCHOUAMENI    

    PSG are preparing to make a late bid for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni in an attempt to snatch him from Real Madrid , according to Goal.

    The 22-year-old Monaco star is almost certain to leave the Principality this off-season, but his destination remains unclear.

    Madrid have reportedly been in talks with Monaco over a prospective transfer for over a year, but have not yet completed the deal.

    Kylian Mbappe was believed to have recommended Tchouameni when he was in talks over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu himself.

    Now Mbappe has decided to stay in the French capital, it has accelerated the race to sign Tchouameni.

    ROUND-UP

    – Chelsea are considering a move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, according to Goal.

    Arsenal target Tammy Abraham insists he is happy at Roma but would not rule out a move back to the Premier League, per Metro.

    – In need of a striker, Tuttosport reports the Gunners are also monitoring Alvaro Morata's situation, with his loan deal at Juventus expiring this off-season.

    – Tottenham are targeting Inter centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester United also interested, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

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