In a year that looked far more likely to be their worst, the Seattle Sounders are officially enjoying their best. Thanks largely to a Jordan Morris second-half goal, the Sounders beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 to advance to their first-ever MLS Cup with a 3-1 aggregate-goal victory.
After winning the first leg of the Western Conference finals 2-1, this one looked far from assured until Morris’ 56th minute goal gave them a much-needed road goal and some breathing room.
The first-half was mostly a test in how well the Sounders could absorb pressure. The Rapids came out very aggressively and created numerous scoring opportunities, although none of them were actually on goal. The scariest moment came when Kevin Doyle beat Roman Torres to a ball on the wing and was able to put a ball through the box where the far post was wide open. But Sebastien LeToux was unable to latch onto it and the ball eventually went out for a Sounders throw.
The other chances weren’t quite as clear cut, but the Rapids held 60 percent of possession and the Sounders only managed a single shot. The shot, it should be said, come from midfield and was a purely speculative effort from Osvaldo Alonso. Otherwise, the Sounders were mostly left looking for chances on the counter and struggled to get the likes of Nicolas Lodeiro, Morris or Nelson Valdez heading toward goal.
The only notable chance the Sounders had didn’t even lead to a shot. Morris was able to shield a defender on a leading Lodeiro pass, pushed forward into attack and found Andreas Ivanschitz alone on the wing. But instead of trying a right-footed effort from about 16 yards out or trying to switch it onto his left foot, Ivanschitz tried to cross it back through the goal to no avail.
The Sounders came out much better in the second half, though, and it paid off in the 56th minute. That’s when Nelson Valdez picked up a deflected ball about 25 yards out and put in Morris, who beat the on-rushing Zac MacMath with a first-time shot that floated into the back of the net. It was Morris’ second straight game with a goal after going eight consecutive without scoring. It also gave Morris his second goal at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in a season in which the Rapids had allowed just eight away goals.
Immediately upon scoring, Morris grabbed his knee and stayed down for several minutes. After receiving some medical attention and a quick wrap, he remained in the game and actually finished it out. Morris had battled illness throughout the week.
The Rapids had a penalty shout in the 66th minute when Chad Marshall blocked a shot and the ball ricochetted into his arm. Referee Ricardo Salazar waved it off.
Around the 70th minute, the Sounders were dealt a significant blow when Alonso suffered a hard tackle from Marc Burch and grabbed his knee. Alonso was able to play for a couple more minutes, but ultimately had to leave in the 75th. Oniel Fisher replaced him.
Valdez came inches away from grabbing the clincher in the 83rd minute. Roman Torres won a header then pushed it forward, finding Valdez with a ball over the top. Valdez was able to fight off a couple defenders and break into the open field, but his chip attempt wasn’t quite high enough to beat MacMath.
Amazingly, there’s still a chance the Sounders will host MLS Cup. If the Montreal Impact can hold onto their 3-2 lead over the Eastern Conference final on Wednesday, the championship game will be at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 10. Otherwise, the Sounders will be traveling to BMO Field.