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.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
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.