By Lizzy Becherano
Seattle Sounders made history in 2022 by winning the Concacaf Champions League and becoming the first ever Serie A football club to lift the trophy.
The Western Conference team defeated Motagua, Club Leon and New York City FC before reaching the highly anticipated final against Pumas UNAM.
Although the two-legged series saw the Sounders struggle to an early 2-2 tie on April 27, Brian Schmetzer’s side came back to triumph 3-0 on May 4 for a 5-2 aggregate score.
The team was top notch.
“It was the greatest experience. It took a lot to win the Concacaf Champions League. It was a trophy that hasn’t been won by any team in MLS,” Cristian Roldan said in an interview with 90 minutes.
But then came the reality.
Schmetzer’s team immediately shifted focus to the ongoing Major League Soccer 2022 campaign, after neglecting regular season action due to Champions League demand. The team faced a string of poor results and low rankings, with 25 games left to play.
“Some difficult moments last season came after the Champions League. The emotional roller coaster of winning a trophy very early on is tough,” Roldan added.
“That’s when it got difficult. We’ve had injuries to deal with from the Champions League and all the emotion and energy we put into the tournament was difficult. We have to learn from this. In the dressing room, we need to be more disciplined with our rules and regulations, have balance and stay focused.”
With a clear view on MLS, the Sounders have improved. But despite the team winning 10 of its remaining 25 games, Schmetzer’s team finished below the postseason line in 11th place with 41 points and a 12W-17H-5D record.
The defending champions of the CCL had failed in the American championship.
“It was difficult for all of us as a team. We won a trophy so early in the season and we think ‘ok, it’s a successful season’. Roldan explained. “It was tough with the boys and in the locker room. For us, we haven’t been able to come down from the emotions, so that was something we needed to focus on. When we are too high, not to be too high, and when we are too low, not to be too low.
The Sounders’ situation prompts a larger conversation within Major League Soccer about roster depth and the American team’s ability to balance competitions.
For now, the Sounders will compete in the FIFA Club World Cup following their CCL triumph. This time around, international competition will not interrupt MLS play this time around, with the final taking place on February 11, 14 days before the start of the 2023 campaign.
This article was originally posted on 90min.com as Cristian Roldan explains the ’emotional roller coaster’ of winning CCL but failing in MLS .