Photo credit: Elaine Thompson
The Seattle Sounders defeated Toronto FC 3-1 to take the MLS Cup on Sunday. This was the 3rd time in 4 years that the two soccer clubs would face off for the championship with the Sounders winning in penalty kicks in 2016 and Toronto winning the following season 2-0. In this rubber match, the Rave Green would however take a strong 2nd half showing to put down the visiting Canadian rivals by a score of 3-1.
“The players and the fans deserve this,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “The players persevered because again it was a first-half we needed to make some adjustments and they never quit. And the fans never stopped believing. I’m very happy and proud for the city and the fans.”
Just 10 years after joining the MLS. The Seattle Sounders have now made a case for being one of the most successful franchises in MLS history. The Sounders now have 2 MLS championships to go along with other accolades such as a Supporter’s Shield, 3 US Open Cups, and a record 10 straight seasons making the MLS playoffs.
In front of a Centurylink record 69K fans, defender Kelvin Leerdam would strike first in the 57th minute with a ricochet goal. The score would come as a bit of a surprise as most of the 1st half was played on the Sounders side of the field. Toronto would go on to dominate possession 65% to the Sounders 35%. Unlike the previous 2 championship matches though, the Sounders would make the most of their opportunities taking as many shots as Toronto (14-14) and placing 6 of those shots on target.
MLS Cup MVP Victor Rodriguez would replace Brad Smith in the 61st minute and that sub would pay off. Just a minute later, Gustav Svensson would toss a ball into the box with a quick tap from Nico Lodiero which would allow Victor to fire a true shot to the right corner of the net past an outstretched goalie’s arms.
Gustav would create another memorable play with a 50 yard pass to lead Raul Ruidiaz who would beat man on man coverage to chip the ball in for the 3-0 lead.
The Sounders found a way to win the MLS the hard way for a second time. Whereas in 2016 they started off the season slow only to get hot for the playoffs, this year was the opposite as a hot start to the season saw the dog days of summer threaten to derail them. And this year, the Rave Green would have to get past a legendary LAFC team to earn the right to host the championship game.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer, now has 2 MLS Cups, 3 MLS Cup appearances, and 4 Western Conference finals appearances in his 4 years as the Sounders head coach which should earn him the respect across the league that he is due. And while some of the names may change next year, today we celebrate in jubilation over this championship!