Seattle Sounders triumph over Toronto to win MLS Cup Final


Seattle Sounders overcame the tough task of Toronto to win the MLS Cup 3-1

The two teams lined up in 4-3-3 variants opposites of each other, Bradley withdrawn into a defensive posture awaiting for a Nico Lodeiro attack, to see who would take the 2-1 lead in MLS Cup victories.  

Both teams looked to push a longer ball early. The Sounders won a corner early and Toronto found the first shot on goal in the fourth minute that didn’t test Stefan Frei. The Sounders showed a slight defensive lapse not tracking a run on the shot and another where miscommunication allowed a ball to drop in the box. 

Jordan Morris took Sounders first good chance of the match on a long run of over 60 yards that ended in a pedestrian save from Quentin Westberg. Toronto had two markers on Raul Ruidiaz to make certain that he did not get involved on that run. 

Toronto came right back and found some space in the box that resulted in a Jonathon Osorio shot from the penalty spot that went directly at Stefan Frei. Greg Vanney was demonstrably disappointed that it wasn’t a goal. Sounders had shown defensive lapses but leaving Osorio that open in such a dangerous position was one that should have cost them the opening goal. 

The match began to slow down with a bevy of midfield fouls and a talking to from Referee Allen Chapman.

The match picked right back up with Sounders skipping the oft-fouled midfield and sent Ruidiaz on a long run that turned into a throw-in and then a cross and then Roman Torres 20th minute chance from a Lodeiro cross.

Toronto was looking to find their attacking rhythm and had trouble breaking down Sounders defense. 

Osorio was fouled by Gustav Svensson and the play from the twenty-yard free kick sent Seattle’s defense scrambling for a clearance. 

In the 40th minute, Svensson tackles to save a give-and-go goal from Alejandro Pozuelo, Kim Kee-hee clears

Ruidiaz ran in from of Omar Gonzalez to win a ball from Lodeiro, beat the former US National defender, and nearly put the Sounders up 1-0 right before halftime as Westberg made the diving save. 

Toronto had a slight advantage in shots 8(3)-6(2) at the half, Seattle in possession 65%-35%. Neither team made a substitute at the half.

Toronto came out of the second half on the front foot looking to apply pressure on the Sounders and had a long string of threatening play in the Sounders penalty area.

Kelvin Leerdam received a ball from Ruidiaz that he controlled in the box, took a touch left past his defender and attempted for the far post when the ball caromed off Justin Morrow for a goal in the 57th minute. There were protestations to the referee from Michael Bradley immediately after the goal.

Brad Smith was subbed off in the 60th minute for Victor Rodriguez. Smith had been having an incredible match, combined well with Jordan Morris several times up the left flank. Greg Vanney, responded with Nick DeLeon, hero from the Conference semis, for Tusbasa Endoh.

A crunching tackle in the 65th minute by Kim Kee-hee on Mavinga left both players in a heap adding to injury time as Jozy Altidore was getting ready to come onto the pitch and entered to a chorus of boos. Altidore had been listed as injured, was no surprise inclusion in the 18 man roster, despite saying that he would need a miracle to play. 

Pozuelo earned the first yellow card of the match for a tactical foul on Lodeiro who was looking to break away. 

Victor Rodriguez set the 69,000 alight when he received a square ball on the top of the penalty area from Nico Lodeiro and drove the ball to the far post, past Westberg, for the Sounders second goal of the Cup Final. 

Sounders subbed off Jordan Morris for Jordy Delem in the 85th minute and joined Brad Smith on the bench. Sounders attempted to pack their half and penalty area, Toronto moved Omar Gonzalez up front for aerial attacks. Raul Ruidiaz put the final nail in the coffin for Toronto FC with a breakaway goal run against Mavinga that left the Congolese shaking his head in disappointment and the Peruvian in the referee’s book for his shirtless celebration. 

Five minutes of stoppage time were whittled away by substitutions and more possession play. Jozy Altidore was able to get a goal back for Toronto FC and the match would end 3-1. Toronto FC may be wondering what may have happened if Altidore had been fully fit. 

Sounders helped to exorcise the demons of past home playoffs losses: Portland, Houston, Real Salt Lake, and LA Galaxy. Victor Rodriguez was named Outstanding Player of the Match as a substitute. 

There haven’t been two teams that have met in MLS Cup with this frequency. Seattle has two victories against Toronto FC in the MLS Cup over the last four years and has laid the foundation of what a nascent dynasty.   A goalkeeper surrounded by competent and aggressive defenders, a midfield that creates as well as it defends, and a striker who can apparently do anything he wants despite his diminutive stature. 

Photos by John Crouch


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