Seattle Sounders FC could play an unusually serious friendly this season.
The club announced Thursday that it will meet Mexico’s Club Tijuana at 7 p.m. March 24 at CenturyLink Field.
New general manager Garth Lagerwey stressed that the opponent was selected to help prepare for the Sounders’ return to CONCACAF Champions League play — and the style and quality of Mexican clubs that await.
“Winning the CONCACAF Champions League is a priority for our organization, and we’re going to begin our preparations for this tournament by taking on a great Xolos team in March,” Lagerwey said in a release. “Club Tijuana represents the type of team we’ll face in CONCACAF play, and to host them on a big stage in front of our fans will be a great test for our players. ... If you believe the club can matter on the world stage, we have to win this tournament.”
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Club Tijuana was founded in 2007, gained promotion to the Mexican First Division in 2010, and two years later the club captured the 2012 Liga MX Apertura championship with a win over Toluca. That victory earned entry to the 2013 Copa Libertadores — South America’s top club knockout competition — where Tijuana reached the quarterfinals.
The team now sits second in the 2015 Clausura with 13 points (4-1-1), one point behind Cruz Azul.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to play a top Mexican team in this kind of an exhibition game,” coach Sigi Schmid said in the release. “Outside of playing Chivas a few years ago, we’ve never really had the chance to prepare for CONCACAF Champions League against a team that uses the style of play we’ll see throughout the tournament.”
The match is part of the Sounders’ season-ticket package. An academy match between the two clubs is scheduled prior to the friendly at 4:30 p.m.