Through 120 minutes, the Seattle Sounders had no answers going forward. They became the first MLS Cup finalist to fail to register a shot on goal, their three shots was the fewest ever by a finalist and they went into penalties without scoring.
It didn’t matter.
The Sounders are MLS Cup champions after outlasting Toronto FC 5-4 in penalties, with Roman Torres converting the winner. It wasn’t pretty, but no one will care.
Stefan Frei made the play of the match when he made a diving save on a Jozy Altidore header in extra time and then stopped Michael Bradley’s penalty in the shootout. Brad Evans, Andreas Ivanschitz, Joevin Jones, Nicolas Lodeiro and Torres converted their penalties. He ran toward the end of BMO Field where the supporters were and collapsed, crying.
The Sounders entered their very first MLS Cup final with nearly the same team that won 1-0 in the second leg against Colorado, with the exception of Erik Friberg in for Andreas Ivanschitz.
Both teams started a little nervy, but Toronto had first crack on goal as the Sounders defense allowed Sebastian Giovinco to find Jozy Altidore at close range, but the big forward’s shot was wide. Toronto earned a series of corner kicks and free kicks shortly after, as Seattle had trouble getting the ball out of their own half in the opening minutes. Nelson Valdez proved the unlikely defensive hero as he headed away a Michael Bradley cross in the box. This kicked off a counter attack through Joevin Jones, but his final ball was gathered by Clint Irwin.
Seattle saw a good spell of possession and attacking afterwards, mostly through corner kicks, but they were unable to do anything with those chances. Tyrone Mears picked Giovinco’s pocket after a Sounders corner, stealing the ball from him and putting in a quick cross, but it was easily snatched up by Irwin. Jordan Morris almost latched onto a deep ball, but Zavaleta kicked it away.
Despite the Sounders’ playing tight to Giovinco, Toronto’s star forward managed to work the ball into the final third and get the ball to Altidore in the box, who stumbled in and passed to Jonathan Osorio—but the midfielder’s final shot was weak and straight at Frei. Morris successfully latched onto another deep ball, but even though he managed to get in behind the defense, they were able to put him off before he could create a dangerous chance. Minutes after that, Morris earned a deep free kick for the Sounders, but nobody was able to latch onto Lodeiro’s deep cross.
Nelson Valdez went down with an apparent injury after landed awkwardly halfway through 45, but he was eventually able to continue playing. Soon after, it was Roman Torres’ turn to go down—Giovinco turned and kicked the ball at point-blank range into the big center backs’ face. Torres went down immediately, with medical staff rushing out to check on him. He had to step off the pitch briefly, but he was able to return.
Valdez and Erik Friberg were able to move the ball well in Toronto’s half to nearly produce something of note, but again—the final ball just wasn’t there for the Sounders. Toronto then managed to earn a free kick close to Seattle’s box, but the resulting take from Giovinco took a favorable deflection (for the Sounders) and the defense took care of it. Near the end of the half, the Sounders had an excellent extended spell of possession near Toronto’s box, but the best chance was snuffed out by Michael Bradley.
Despite a fairly strong start to the second half, the Sounders nearly suffered after Ozzie Alonso lost the ball near Seattle’s 18. Toronto was able to eventually find Giovinco’s run into the box, but his shot flew wide and into the side netting. Another mistake in Seattle’s half, this time a miscue by Marshall, gave Altidore and Giovinco free reign with the ball until Alonso nicked the ball from Giovinco after the two went shoulder-to-shoulder.
The next 20 or so minutes mostly went by without incident, as both teams played pretty sloppily in the final third. Flaco Fernandez was the Sounders’ first sub in the 67th minute, coming in for Erik Friberg. Seattle gave up another dangerous free kick soon after, but Bradley’s deep effort went wide.
Things exploded just after 70 minutes, as Valdez went down with a cramp and Joevin Jones was whistled for a foul on Steven Beitashour near the touchline. It looked to be quite a bit of embellishment by the Torono man, but Jones still saw yellow. Valdez’s injury, officially called “lower body cramping,” was apparently serious enough to force him off and replaced by Andreas Ivanschitz.
Joevin Jones earned a free kick for Seattle in the 80th, giving them possibly their closest set piece attempt so far in this match. Ivanschitz’s delivery was good, but his teammates were unable to redirect the ball into the goal. Just minutes after, Jordan Morris nearly produced the kind of magic he’s been known for this season—he held onto the ball and shielded the defenders away, but a heavy touch saw the ball go just beyond his reach and out of play.
The last few minutes of regulation time saw the Sounders pushing and pushing in the final third, but Toronto was equal to every bit of it. Giovinco nearly had two chances in succession afterwards, but Tyrone Mears and Torres were able to get the ball off him both times. A late corner almost let Toronto break the deadlock, but Stefan Frei came flying off his line to deny Altidore. Toronto captain Michael Bradley saw yellow in stoppage time for flipping Roldan over his leg near the center circle.
The first period of extra time started about as nervy as expected, and Toronto saw the first big opportunity when substitute Benoit Cheyrou received the ball in the box and took a shot, but Frei was again equal to the effort. A botched clearance saw Toronto attack again and earn another corner kick, but Bradley’s attempt was easily headed away. Ivanschitz put in a very good free kick after Lodeiro was fouled in the final third, but he just missed his teammates’ heads as it was nodded out of play by Toronto. Toronto took Giovinco off with a few minutes left, bringing on Eastern Conference finals hero Tosaint Ricketts. It almost paid off, as Ricketts nearly got a piece of a deep ball; Jones used his speed to beat the Toronto winger and kick the ball out of play.
Jordan Morris kicked off the second period of extra time by beat the Toronto defense and snagging a great Lodeiro pass, but he was unable to find a teammate with his cross. Toronto charged down the pitch immediately afterwards, allowing Ricketts to shoot at an open far post—but his shot went just wide. Not long after that, Frei made an unbelievable save to deny Altidore a header into the top corner. A Beithashour error on the other side of the pitch almost gave Torres a huge opportunity on goal, but a heavy touch saw it cleared away by Toronto. Roldan went down due to a cramp for a couple minutes, and a Toronto attack through Ricketts almost produced something, but Chad Marshall managed to stay tight enough to force him into a poor ball that went right to Frei. Neither team managed to produce anything until the final whistle, sending the match to penalty kicks.
Altidore (TOR): Scored
Evans (SEA): Scored
Bradley (TOR): Saved
Ivanschitz (SEA): Scored
Cheyrou (TOR): Scored
Fernandez (SEA): Saved
Johnson (TOR): Scored
Jones (SEA): Scored
Moor (TOR): Scored
Lodeiro (SEA): Scored
Morrow (TOR): Off the post
SEATTLE WINS MLS CUP