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Originally published Monday, October 17, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Sounders FC plays Champions League finale but also look beyond

Sounders FC host CF Monterrey of Mexico at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — After masterfully navigating three competitions in a hectic yet fruitful summer, Sounders FC's final non-MLS game of the season has arrived.

Seattle wraps up group stage in the CONCACAF Champions League at 7 p.m. Tuesday against CF Monterrey of Mexico, the defending tournament champion, in the last of a four-game homestand at CenturyLink Field.

Having already clinched a top-two finish in Group D and advancement to the quarterfinals, coach Sigi Schmid has the slight luxury of looking ahead.

"At the end of the day, our ultimate goal at this point now is to make a deep run into the playoffs and win MLS Cup," Schmid said. "We have to be smart about what we do, so our lineup selections are going to be predicated upon that a little bit."

Seattle tops the CCL group at 3-1-1 and needs at least a tie Tuesday to finish first.

A bigger priority, however, is preventing injuries to key players, and avoiding suspensions in the knockout stages, which begin next March.

Nine Sounders are carrying yellow cards into the match and would be forced to sit out of the first quarterfinal leg with another: Erik Friberg, Leo Gonzalez, Nate Jaqua, Kasey Keller, Lamar Neagle, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Mauro Rosales and Zach Scott.

"We've got to put some guys on the field with yellows and make them aware of that," said Schmid, "and maybe there are some guys we're going to hold off because of that."

While the Sounders are selective, Monterrey will be motivated. The Rayados are struggling in league matches and need at least a tie Tuesday to clinch a top-two finish in the group because of their 3-2 CCL record.

Being just the second Mexican team in history to lose at home to an American team (the Sounders won the previous meeting 1-0 on Aug. 23 in Monterrey) should also spur the visitors in Tuesday's rematch.

"Everybody's got pride and ... they're not happy about losing at home," said Schmid. "I'm sure they want to return the favor."

NOTES

• Goalkeeper Kasey Keller was named MLS Player of the Week for his seven-save performance Saturday against San Jose. He's the fifth Sounder to earn the award this season.

• Tuesday will likely mark Sounders FC's last use of its Electricity yellow uniforms. The team has worn the alternate kit the past two seasons in U.S. Open Cups games, CCL and international friendlies.

• Injured forward O'Brian White continues to recover after he underwent a second surgery in August to repair a blood clot in his leg. Schmid said the forward is rehabilitating on an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill and is close to being able to run on his own.

"It's a pretty extensive surgery when you're transplanting a vein and things like that, so you have to give him time to recover," Schmid said.

• Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is suspended Tuesday due to yellow cards.

• CS Herediano of Costa Rica (1-4) hosts CSD Comunicaciones of Guatemala (2-2-1) in the final CCL Group D game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

View from the top
Sounders FC can clinch the best record in CCL's Group D with a win or tie Tuesday against Monterrey.
Team League Record Pts
Sounders FC MLS 3-1-1 10
Monterrey Mexico 3-2-0 9
Comunicaciones Guatemala 2-2-1 7
Herediano Costa Rica 1-4-0 3

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