Though Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer praised his team’s effort, calling the game an “even match,” he rued the series of small mishaps that led to the deciding goal.
“Sometimes that’s the game,” said Schmetzer, whose team faced an Al Ahly side that’s in midseason form and undefeated through 15 league matches.
“We make one little half a mistake, little error – give the ball away in that part of the field. They hit the crossbar. We have a chance to clear. It drops to the player, and he shoots and Alex tries to block it, and it goes in the goal. That’s really unfortunate after all of the effort the players put in.”
That sequence gave Seattle a one-and-done trip to North Africa, missing out on a Feb. 8 semifinal match vs. UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid. Al Ahly’s date against the LaLiga icons marks their third straight Club World Cup semifinal test.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” said Frei. “We’re super happy to be here and be part of this, but you don’t want to just be participants. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and we’ll most likely never have another chance to participate in something like this, so a missed opportunity.
“There’s some sad faces in the locker room and some anger, disappointment. That’s all exactly where it needs to be.”