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Seattle Sounders path to FIFA Club World Cup final: MLS club must go through Real Madrid in 2023

The Seattle Sounders are the first MLS side to ever take part in the FIFA Club World Cup, a global club competition of continental title winners meeting to compete and crown a worldwide club champion. This year’s host is Morocco, so the Sounders will fly across the world to take part.

By topping Pumas UNAM in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League final, the Sounders became the first American club to win the continental title since 2000, and therefore the first U.S. club to qualify for the Club World Cup, a competition that was not around in its current format when the LA Galaxy last won the North American championship.

The Sounders are still in preseason mode, making it very difficult for them to get ready for the tournament, as the MLS season doesn’t begin until late February. Still, this is an opportunity for an American club to gain worldwide recognition on the international stage, and earn some prize money along the way.

Seattle has the opportunity to earn a matchup against on of the world’s greatest clubs, defending UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid. Los Blancos await the winner of Seattle’s second round match against Al Ahly, meaning the Sounders must earn the right to take the field with Europe’s most successful side.

While it takes place in the 2023 calendar year, this year’s tournament is technically referred to as the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup, since it was initially slated to take place in December 2022, until the rescheduled men’s World Cup forced it to move back a month.

MORE: Complete FIFA Club World Cup schedule and bracket

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Seattle Sounders path at FIFA Club World Cup 2023

The FIFA Club World Cup, in its current format, features seven clubs. Six of them are continental title holders, while the seventh slot is typically reserved for the host nation’s reigning champion, which this year is Morocco. But that latter slot was reassigned to Egyptian club Al Ahly since the Moroccan champion is also the reigning African champion and officially qualified by claiming that honor.

As currently constructed, there are four rounds. In the first round, the club occupying the host nation slot meets the Oceania champion. Then, in the second round, the North American (CONCACAF), Asian (AFC), and African (CAF) continental club winners enter the competition, while the European (UEFA) and South American (CONMEBOL) title winners enter in the semifinals.

As the North American title holders, the Seattle Sounders will begin play in the second round of the seven-team competition. They will face Al Ahly, who defeated Auckland City in the first round match.

Should the Sounders emerge victorious in their second round matchup against Al Ahly, they would move on to the semifinals where they’d face Real Madrid.

South American title winners Flamengo of Brazil are slotted on the other side of the bracket, and could be a potential final matchup if Seattle were to spring a monumental, all-time upset in the semis.

MORE: FIFA Club World Cup prize money in 2023

Second Round

Date Time Match TV/Streaming
Sat, Feb. 4 12 p.m. ET /
9 a.m. PT
Seattle Sounders vs.
Al Ahly
FS2, Fox Deportes,
fuboTV, Fox Sports site/app


Date Time Match TV/Streaming
Wed, Feb. 8 2 p.m. ET /
11 a.m. PT
Real Madrid vs.
Sounders or Al Ahly
FS2, Fox Deportes,
fuboTV, Fox Sports site/app


Date Time Match TV/Streaming
Sat, Feb. 11 2 p.m. ET /
11 a.m. PT
Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
FS2, Fox Deportes,
fuboTV, Fox Sports site/app

MORE: Has an MLS team ever played in the FIFA Club World Cup?


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