Schmetzer has Seattle Sounders FC thinking SCCL
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Brian Schmetzer (pictured) has led Seattle Sounders FC to a MLS title and a runner-up finish in less than two years as head coach. (Photo courtesy of Sounders FC Communications/Jane Gershovich)

CHULA VISTA, California -- Brian Schmetzer makes no bones about it.

"The [Scotiabank] CONCACAF Champions League is a big deal for us," said the Seattle Sounders FC head coach. "We absolutely want to perform well. We really are taking it seriously."

Seriously enough to start scouting Santa Tecla weeks ahead of their Round of 16, first-leg encounter in El Salvador on February 22.

"We are already going through their roster," Schmetzer told CONCACAF.com.

While his team has not made any major offseason changes in personnel -- versatile Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem was signed on January 30 -- Schmetzer believes the 2017 MLS Cup runner-up is well-positioned to push for an international trophy. Seattle's best SCCL finish came in the 2012/13 edition, when it reached the semifinals before falling to Santos (agg: 1-2).

"We really think we have a competitive squad," remarked the 55-year-old. "We have a team that we feel is structured in a way that we can compete in the Champions League and worry about our league form as well."

Schmetzer, an assistant coach the last time Seattle played in the SCCL (2015/16), understood the intangibles.

"There is that unknown factor because we have not played Santa Tecla," he commented. "You really don't know until you're down there and you see the turf, the stadium, the atmosphere."

He was confident that Seattle will find its form.

"We just have to get past the first couple of rounds," Schmetzer concluded. "By the time there's the semifinals, we'll have played enough competitive games to catch up to the Mexican teams."

Seattle, however, needs to prevail over Santa Tecla first.

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