Seattle Sounders: MLS 2019 Champions

Seattle Sounders 3 -1 Toronto FC – Game Recap

Both Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC have been setting the standard in the MLS for fantastic soccer, drama, rivalry and excitement in the past few years.  After both teams competed against each other for the MLS top honor in BMO Field in 2016 and 2017, Seattle won first and Toronto the year after.

The two MLS powerhouses competed again in this year for the 2019 MLS Audi Cup, and both got to another thrilling final.  This year however, belongs to the Seattle Sounders.

Since competing in the MLS in 2007, Toronto FC won the Canadian Championship for seven times, and was the runner up for three more.  It took them a bit more time to compete at the highest tier of the MLS, but in the past five seasons Toronto has reached the MLS playoffs four times.  Three in which the reds reached the MLS Cup Final.

Toronto finished in the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and went on to beat D.C. United (5-1) in Round 1, #1 Seed NYCFC (2-1) in the Conference Semi-Finals, and defending MLS champions Atlanta United (2-1) in the Conference Finals.  Reaching the MLS 2019 Cup Playoffs to face Seattle Sounders.

Seattle Sounders started competing in the MLS in 2009, and for their eleven seasons in the MLS, the team has not missed one chance to clinch a playoff spot.  The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup four times.  The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC in 2016 to become MLS Champions, and have been played in the Playoff finals for a total of three times, out of which two (including tonight) made them MLS Champions.

Seattle Sounders finished in the #2 seed in the MLS Western Conference, and beat FC Dallas (4-3) in Round 1, Real Salt Lake (2-0) in the Conference Semi-Finals and #1 seed LAFC (3-1) in the Western Conference Finals.

This was Seattle’s turn to host the third MLS-Cup faceoff between the two sides in four years.

Toronto did appear to be the more dominant team in the first hour of the match.  Things almost went the visitors’ way a few times.  In first when TFC’s Jonathan Osorio fired a shot straight that was caught by Seattle’s keeper Stefan Frei (11).  Another opportunity was when TFC’s Nicolas Benzet fired a powerful left-footed shot from the left side of the box.  It was a great save by at the bottom right by Frei again (35’).

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC - MLS Cup Game Recap

Seattle’s Keeper Stefan Frei made crucial saves; Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports

The hosts also created a few chances in the first half, with Roman Torres with a close call off a corner kick, that went over the bar (21), and Raul Ruidiaz that faced Toronto’s keeper Quentin Westberg right before the halftime whistle, with Westberg coming up with a save.

The visitors in red kept on the pressure after coming back from halftime, but an opening goal by the Sounders that went completely against the run of play , took both sides by surprise and gave Seattle the lead.

The first goal of the night came when Ruidiaz passed the ball to Kalvin Leerdam who was in the top-right corner of the box.  Leerdam then fired a ball that bounced off the Toronto’s defenders into their own net (57’).

The hosts built on the momentum and started dominating more once in the lead.  Sounders’ Nicolas Lodeiro past a ball to Victor Rodriquez who doubled the hosts’ lead with a powerful shot from the 18-yard line (76’).

Ruidiaz eventually got a chance to score as well, and added an insurance with a kick right through the middle of the box from the penalty arc (90’).

Although too little, too late, but Toronto’s Jozy Altidore who came in as a substitute on the 68th minute (for his first time in these playoffs after suffering a hamstring injury) managed to head in a consolation goal for Toronto from the penalty spot (90+3’).

Leerdam’s goal was the Sounders’ first goal in their last three MLS Cup-Final appearances.  It pretty much tipped over the game for both sides, with Seattle gaining huge momentum and fighting spirit, and Toronto unable to regroup and come up with a response.  

Surely, many in Toronto are asking themselves tonight: “what if”?