By Dylan Butler
A year after getting its first taste of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Seattle Sounders FC want a bigger bite.
Last year, the Major League Soccer side defeated Isidro Metapan 2-1 on aggregate in the Preliminary Round but didn't make it past the Group Stage, winning just one of its six matches and finishing last in Group C. Manager Sigi Schmid is anxious for an improved showing this year.
"Certainly we'd like to do better in the Champions League than we did last year," Schmid told reporters Saturday. "I think it was a good learning experience for us. I thought we were a little unfortunate, especially when we got to the Group Stage having to play two of our first three on the road. That made it difficult for us."
Seattle faces a difficult test in the Preliminary Round this year, travelling to play Panamanian Clausura champion San Francisco on Tuesday in Panama City, before returning to the Pacific Northwest on August 3.
"Playing in the heat and humidity is something that'll be different for us, but it's a challenge we've faced before," Schmid said. "We faced it last year and we were able to come through it."
Seattle enters the match following a 7-0 drubbing by Manchester United in a friendly in front of 67,052 at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday. Schmid said he isn't concerned about his team's confidence following a lopsided loss.
"The key for us now is to show what we're made of and show what we're all about," Schmid said. "I'm confident we're going to go into the game down in Panama and into the game in Houston and show exactly what we're all about."
San Francisco is making its fourth CONCACAF Champions League appearance and is hoping to reach the Group Stage for the second time. Last year Leonardo Pipino's squad lost to Cruz Azul 9-2 on aggregate in the Preliminary Round.
San Francisco defeated Alianza 1-0 on Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the Apertura campaign.
Also on Tuesday, Herediano and Alpha United will play the opening leg of its Preliminary Round aggregate series at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica. The second leg is August 4 at Providence Stadium.
This is Herediano's second CONCACAF Champions League appearance, having lost in the Preliminary Round two years ago to eventual finalist Cruz Azul.
Meanwhile, led by newly appointed captain Anthony Abrams, Alpha United has made history as the first Guyanese club in the competition, defeating Trinidad and Tobago's Defence Force on penalties in the CFU club championship.
Buoyed by the return of Dwight Peters, who scored in the Caribbean club competition, Dwain Jacobs and six new foreign players, the club, the Hammer traveled over the weekend to San Jose for its historic match.