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 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 Clasura 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.
Here's the release from the club:
Seattle Sounders FC today announced that it is hosting Club Tijuana - also known as Xolos - in an international friendly on Tuesday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. PST on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. An Academy match between the two clubs is taking place prior to the friendly at 4:30 p.m. PST, also held on the stadium field.
"We are excited to welcome Club Tijuana to Seattle - one of the premier clubs in Mexico's topflight," said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. "It has been a stated goal of our club to excel in the CONCACAF Champions League, and competing against a team like Xolos allows us to prepare for the rigors of this year's tournament and to test our players against some of the top talent in our region."
The international friendly is included as part of the Sounders FC full 20-match 2015 season ticket package, which starts as low as $437, as well as the Sky of Blue half-season ticket package, available for only $200. Additionally, single-match tickets are available tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. PST through SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, the CenturyLink Field box office or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL. To reserve the best seats and get complete ticketing information for the 2015 season, visit SoundersFC.com/Tickets or call 877-MLS-GOAL.
"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," said Sounders FC General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. "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're a Sounders supporter, if you believe in what Sounders FC can be in the long-term, and if you believe the club can matter on the world stage, we have to win this tournament. We have to win the Champions League, and the only way to get there is to play games like this."
Founded in 2007, Club Tijuana became the fastest team in Mexican football history to earn a Liga MX championship following promotion to the topflight. Xolos gained promotion to the Mexican First Division with a win over Irapuato in the 2010 Promotion Final after winning the 2010 Second Division Apertura title. Just two years later, the club captured the 2012 Liga MX Apertura championship with a win over Toluca. That victory earned Xolos an invite to the 2013 Copa Libertadores - South America's top club knockout competition - where Tijuana reached the quarterfinal round.
Club Tijuana is currently second in the 2015 Clasura with 13 points (4-1-1), just one point behind first-place Cruz Azul. Xolos recently finished 11th in the 2014 Apertura with 21 points (4-4-9), falling short of the postseason.
"It's exciting to have the opportunity to play a top Mexican team in this kind of an exhibition game," said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. "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 Academy match provides both organizations a rare opportunity for their youth clubs to compete against an international opponent. The Sounders FC youth teams compete in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which consists of 79 clubs across the U.S. and Canada.
Said Lagerwey, "Our Academy match against Xolos presents a real challenge for our younger players to compete against some of the best young talent in our region. Tijuana has good, young American players, as well as some of the best up-and-coming Mexican players, and we look forward to seeing our youngsters compete against the Xolos' Academy side."
In addition to the First Team and Academy matches, there will be community events and clinics involving First Team players, technical staff members from both sides and Academy coaches. These events are set to take place on March 24 in advance of matchday activities.
The friendly provides Sounders FC an opportunity to stay sharp amidst a two-week break in competitive action during the early portion or the 2015 MLS season. The club does not have an MLS match scheduled between a March 14 home fixture against San Jose and a road clash with FC Dallas on March 28.
Sounders FC has hosted eight international friendlies over the past six seasons, and this marks the second occasion against a Liga MX side. The Rave Green defeated Chivas de Guadalajara 3-1 on October 12, 2010. In its most recently friendly, Seattle drew 3-3 with Tottenham Hotspur on July 19, 2014.
Sounders FC is in the midst of its 2015 preseason presented by adidas in Tucson, Arizona, where the club is competing in the Desert Diamond Cup. Seattle begins its 2015 MLS campaign on Sunday, March 8 at home against defending Eastern Conference champion New England Revolution at 6:30 p.m. PST on FOX Sports 1.