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Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC, MLS Cup: Highlights, stats and quotes

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“The final game is what matters most, and we didn’t come to play.” -Cristian Roldan


Match Recap

SUMMARY

Seattle Sounders FC 0 - Toronto FC 2

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Venue: BMO Field

Referee: Allen Chapman

Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Jeremy Hanson

Fourth Official: Kevin Stott

VAR: David Gantar

Attendance: 30,584

Weather: Clear

SCORING SUMMARY

TOR - Jozy Altidore (Sebastian Giovinco) 67'

TOR - Victor Vazquez 90'+4'

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

TOR - Victor Vazquez (caution) 90'+5'

LINEUPS & STATS

Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones (Nouhou 90+1'); Cristian Roldan, Gustav Svensson, Nicolás Lodeiro - captain, Clint Dempsey, Victor Rodriguez (Jordan Morris 71'); Will Bruin

Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Tony Alfaro, Harry Shipp, Lamar Neagle, Jordy Delem

Total shots: 7 (Dempsey, 4)

Shots on goal: 2 (Jones/Dempsey, 1)

Fouls: 9 (Svensson/Lodeiro, 2)

Offside: 1 (Dempsey, 1)

Corner-kicks: 3 (Lodeiro, 3)

Saves: 9 (Frei, 9)

Toronto FC - Alexander Bono; Steven Beitashour, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow; Michael Bradley - captain, Marco Delgado (Benoit Cheyrou 90+3'), Jonathan Osorio (Armando Cooper 85'), Victor Vazquez; Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore (Nick Hagglund 86')

Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Nicolas Hasler, Eriq Zavaleta, Tosaint Ricketts

Total shots: 22 (Giovinco, 7)

Shots on goal: 11 (Giovinco, 4)

Fouls: 3 (Beitashour, 2)

Offside: 1 (Morrow, 1)

Corner-kicks: 11 (Vazquez, 9)

Saves: 2 (Bono, 2)


Post-Match Quotes

BRIAN SCHMETZER – HEAD COACH, SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

It seemed like especially in the first half Toronto was first to everything. Why do you think that was?

I wish I knew. Throughout the course of the year I’ve always picked out one stat on the stat sheet that I always feel is important for success and that is duels won. They had 33 duels won and we had 10. Normally, out team is very good in that department. We have been very good about that all year long. So what I would say there is that they came out in the first half very fired up and we knew they would be and we get through halftime and we think we get a little break. But they came out in the second half again and won more duels in the the second half as well and so that is an important stat for me. Second part of that equation is that we put out our best attacking line up out there but we weren’t able to keep the ball in any part of the game. I think some of the patience in the second half when we did get the ball up the field wasn’t great and so that was not one of our stellar performances.

Last year no shots on goal. Two shots on goal this year. Is there anything you can pinpoint to the attack not being able to create as many opportunities as you’d like?

I would give credit to Toronto. They certainly seemed to be very good defensively. Our attacking movements have been good. But today we had too many balls given away. Too many easy balls given away. Too many easy passes given away. When you don’t have any rhythm to your game, you don’t create a ton of chances. It’s a performance that we will look at. We’ll do the same program that we always do. We’ll look at the tape, we’ll look at the film and we’ll try to learn and see if we can get better.

After the first goal, did you get the response you wanted out of your team?

A little bit. We were ready to bring Nouhou on and try to solidify the left side and see if we could generate some more attacking punch and get Betashour, I thought he was effective in the second half to shut some of that down. The response was good up until the end when it become fairly ugly and your just pumping balls up. Roman was up there, Chad was up there for a considerable period so. Again I am not going to fault my team for the effort. But again the soccer just wasn’t there. We’re capable of playing better soccer, let’s put it that way.

Earlier in the week you had praise for Michael Bradley being one of the better players in the league. Tonight he seem to take it to another level, being all over the field. What did you think of his performance?

Good... Very good. He made that game saving tackle against Columbus. I think he was very motivated tonight. I think he’s a tremendous player. Tonight he had a good performance and he helped his team in many different ways. Jozy scored the goal and Vasquez scores the goal but it’s not always the goal scorers, it’s the guys that do some of the work in behind and Michael was very good tonight.

The way Stefan Frei was playing tonight, did you think it was developing into a similar scenario as last year when we were giving up a lot of shots and it was scoreless for so long?

Yes Larry, especially the first half. Stef had to come up very very big in the first half. So I thought once we were able to get it to halftime, try and make some adjustments. I thought we would give ourselves a chance. The adjustments we made at halftime didn’t work. At some point if you are going to rely on your goal keeper that often and in that many critical moments one of them is going to get through. So credit to Jozy and the assist by Giovinco is a pass and a good in and they finally broke through.

JORDAN MORRIS – FORWARD, SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Thoughts on this game vs last year’s finals?

I think they had a lot more chances in the first half this time than they did last year. I think they were on top of us at the beginning of the game. They came out and really created chances and set the tone and made it extremely hard for us to overcome.

STEFAN FREI – GOALKEEPER, SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Thoughts on the game?

It was ok. I think we needed to push the reboot button at half time to ensure the second half is different. The quality we have in this locker room and the way we play when we are good was not on display in the first half. We needed for our players to find a way into the game and for us as a team to find our way into the game. Sometimes a restart at the half can provide that but it just seemed like we went out there and did the same thing again which is very disappointing. It was disappointing to accept the pace of the game and we all knew we had so much more to show. As a result, it was a totally deserved win for Toronto.

After you kept racking up save after save, did you think the game had the possibility to shape up the way it did last year?

No, you can’t expect to bend limitlessly because at some point you are going to break. Last year we were able to bend and not break and that was great. It needed to be a wakeup call for us at half time and shake up the game and change something because we were not going to survive another half like that and lo and behold we continued the same way and didn’t survive the second half.

What was the plan tactically to try to change things up in the second half?

Every game is different and ultimately we know what our coach wants us to do. Players need to find a way into the game whether it be a good first touch or a good first pass and for me it felt like we failed at all those things. We did not find a way into the game as individuals and therefore as a collective unit we were not able to find our way into the game. We are a possession based team where we like the opponent to chase us and get tired and start mounting a little pressure but if our first touches are garbage and our passes are astray you’ll never be able to achieve and we found it very hard to get into the game.

NICOLAS LODEIRO - MIDFIELDER, SOUNDERS FC

WILL BRUIN - FORWARD, SOUNDERS FC

CRISTIAN ROLDAN - MIDFIELDER, SOUNDERS FC

GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC

Opening Statement

I just want to start off by saying I’m really proud of our guys and what they have been able to do over the course of the season. Second is to say congratulations to the Seattle Sounders, it is a team that is loaded with talent, has a lot of class, and a lot of people over there that I have great relationships with and that I enjoy as people and as professionals. They are a great team and tonight we made things difficult. They motivated us last year by beating us at our place which gave us a lot of motivation and confidence to come into this season to strive to be the best that we could be. Congratulations to them and thank you to them as well because they served as the motivation for our group. Lastly, we are so proud to do this in front of our city and our fans. It has been a long time and a long journey to get here. Heart ache along the way as we saw last year but to get here tonight and be able to lift the trophy with them and in front of them has been an incredible journey. We are so proud to be here at this moment.

Tell us your thoughts in changing the formation

We shifted up to a diamond for defending and attacking reasons. Defending reasons were that they like to bring a lot of numbers to the middle of the field and they are a great possession oriented teams with those numbers in the middle of the field. By having the diamond the four midfielders and active forwards we knew we could really crowd up the space and make it really difficult for them which would isolate their outside backs on the wings. We did a nice job of taking away any of their combinations through the middle and made it difficult for them to get into a possession oriented game or really create things. On the attacking side we wanted to get Sebastian (Giovinco), Jozy (Altidore), Victor (Vasquez) a little closer together. We wanted to position guys into certain pockets that we thought would exist because they defend in what appears to be a flat 4-4-2 and so we knew there would be some spaces for us to utilize. All of that is the tactics, but the important part is that the players came out to play today and the ball moved quick and they found each other and stayed mobile and confident. They made it really difficult for Seattle to get close to anything really.

What was the first thing that pops into mind when Victor puts in that second goal?

It was the first time I took a deep breath and felt like we had done it. Before then it was a long game where I felt like chances were coming but weren’t putting them away and Stefan Frei was having another blinder of a game and making saves and so even with that first goal like everybody I was still on edge. We had a lot of things locked down but this game is crazy when centre backs start going into the box and balls get launched in and anything can happen. We see Roman Torres with his national team score goals so we are a little bit on edge so with that second goal for me was the first time my emotions came out a little bit. I looked up to the sky, because as most of you are aware lost my mother and she would have been really proud. I’ve lost this game four times prior to tonight and she was a witness to all of those. I was really happy to do that with this group of guys who have been amazing all year.

What did you tell the team at half-time?

Honestly there wasn’t a lot of changes that I felt like we needed to make. We had pretty good control of the game. Defensively we were snuffing out a lot of things and winning the ball in a lot of good areas. We were creating chances and were hitting good spots. I gave them three quick tactical things to think about that I thought could help us to continue to create chances and open things up and mostly wanted them to stay positive and not get frustrated. After a year like last year and a half like that, you have to keep your foot on the gas. Keep trying to make chances and not be afraid that you are going to give up something and endeavour to try and go win the game. One of our statements this week was be bold. Nobody wins anything being afraid, you go out and be bold. The ball kept going, and guys kept attacking. We had them against the ropes and we were able to keep that going in the second half until finally Seba (Giovinco) and Jozy (Altidore) connect for a pretty special goal.

MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC

Does the first championship mean more when adding to all those other accomplishments, starting with the heartbreak of last season?

Yes, absolutely. Lifting this trophy has been an obsession for the last 364 days, not just for me but for every single guy in our team, every coach, every part of the staff. From the second Torres scored the winning penalty last year, to get ourselves back here, to give ourselves another crack at it, there’s no other word for it than just obsession. It’s hard to describe to people on the outside to what it’s been like to live that every day, to live that in beginning of preseason when it feels like you are years away from a game, let alone a playoff game, let alone a final. The group that we have is just so committed, so focused. I think I’m a pretty driven person and I think at times I happen to make sure that I don’t wear guys out because for me it’s no problem to go 24 hours a day, every single day, but I understand that everybody is different and I have to pick-and-choose moments to say things and to really be hard with certain things. With this team, it was incredible because there was never one moment when I looked around and felt like guys were losing focus, everything was about getting back here. Every time I look around it was just every single guy laser focused to give ourselves another chance. I’m so proud of every single person a part of this.

What does it add to win this title with Jozy (Altidore)?

When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back and I have that right here (With Greg Vanney) and I have that right here (With Jozy Altidore). It doesn’t mean that every day is perfect by any means but the relationship that I have with Greg, the relationship that I have with Jozy, the relationship I have with Seba, Drew Moor, and I can go down the line, I would do anything for anyone of those guys and I know that they would do the same for me. So when you step on the field in those biggest moments with everything on the line, nothing is guaranteed. You can do everything right, you can leave everything on the field and if a bounce doesn’t go your way, if on the night you’re not quite as sharp, or they get a little bit of luck, you’re not guaranteed anything. I’ve lived that on many different occasions but when push comes to shove I want this guy next to me every single time and I want Greg behind me every single time and I think across the board on our club that’s the mentality, we are all in something together, we have each other’s back to the end of the World and there are no questions asked about that. That’s what it is all about.

What was it like right after the game being out their on the field?

It’s surreal. It’s why I came, it’s why we came. It’s been the dream for the last four years. After the way things went last year you can say for the last year it was an obsession. Things for me kind of came full circle yesterday actually. I remember the first night I got to Toronto, I landed at the airport and the route the driver took from the airport to downtown we came down the 427 (highway) and came in on the Gardiner (Expressway), and the countless times I’ve been to this stadium in the last four years I have not once taken that same route. Of all things yesterday I got into an Uber from my house and I figured and I would just let him take me anyway he wanted and he took me down the 427 and in on the Gardiner to the stadium. I’m not necessarily a huge believer in fate or things like that, I think Greg (Vanney) said it best a week ago, and I like the way he said it, I believe in hard work and preparation and you make your own luck. You give everything you have to put things into your own hands but there was a moment yesterday morning that it dawned on me, that I have been here four years and I have not taken that same drive to the stadium once. To kind of have it come full circle, to finish things off this year in this way. When Jozy scored I knew that was it, and then when Armando (Cooper) dribbled the goalkeeper and off the post, and then Victor (Vazquez), it was indescribable.

JOZY ALTIDORE – FORWARD, TORONTO FC

How does it feel to be the game change once again?

It’s my job. As a striker with Seba (Sebastian Giovinco) our job is to create and try to score goals. Hats off to him, he was superb, Seba again in terms of probing, looking for spaces, being difficult to play against, the spaces open up. We have a lot of threats on our team and the spaces and the gaps open up. It’s a team effort, from Bono, to me, to the subs that came on, we have a mentality of coach our work. Me, Greg, and Michael may be different in a lot of ways but that is one thing that we agree on, when it comes time to train and work, we need to work. This group has done it all year and I think to cap it off the way we did, it shows what this team is all about.

When Victor (Vazquez) knocks in that second goal what is the first thing that goes through your mind, especially after last year’s heartbreak?

I can’t even begin to tell you. Like I said, like Michael (Bradley) said, like I’m sure Greg (Vanney) has said, we were all sad, we had a lot of emotions, but so were the fans, these people have been through alot and I would never forget the look on their faces when Torres scored that last penalty, people crying. The feeling was great for all of us, but also for the people that have been with this team from day one. Nights like this is what it’s all about and we’re happy to repay the faith that they had put in us tonight.

What does it add to win this title with Michael (Bradley)?

It means everything. I’ve known Michael since 15 years old and from the moment we met we clicked instantly because we both have a love and a passion for the game that is rare. When he first told me about Toronto, I’ll never forget we were in Tampa playing against Nigeria, and we were getting ready for that game and he said ‘hey, you should come to Toronto’. It started off as a joke, but I started to think about it, and we talked all the time about it and to make it was a dream come true. To come here and, for me, it was about coming here and making sure that we won this thing because I know all the pressure that’s put on him (Michael Bradley) when he first came here and I wanted to come here and help take a little bit away from him and help him win here. To be able to win here with him in the fashion that we did. He’s a guy that never complains, he receives a lot of shit, and a lot of critique, but every night he puts his head down and plays the game for his team and for me if you put a group of guys behind Michael that shares that mentality you’re always going to be successful. There’s not player for me, that I’ve seen in US Soccer that I’ve been a part of for such a long time, with the dedication, the commitment, and who just believes and plays the game the right way. It’s team first always, it’s never about him and tonight it was another Michael performance. He stifled them, before they even looked he was there. I was telling the guys on the bench he was unbelievable, his bald head was everywhere, he was all over the field. It’s crazy because you come to expect that, that flawless performance. It was another one for the books for him, a game where he covered so much ground, he got the team out of trouble. It’s Michael Bradley, it’s what we’ve come to expect. One of the best US players in the history of our program and in this league.

What was it like right after the game being out their on the field?

For me, that’s the best part. When I watch games back, obviously you watch for details but I love watching goals and the celebrations because all of the supporters, watching them and what it means to them. It’s chaos. The way they celebrate our goals it’s like they are living and dying with us. I know it’s like that for a lot of fan bases but these people have suffered for a long time. They have had to come watch games where their teams got dominated. Even in those years they were averaging twenty-two thousand people per game. To see a night like tonight, when the whistle blew, all these people, just euphoria, made it all worth it. Michael said, and I’m sure Greg said as well, this night is for them. They’ve been the driving force behind all of this before any of us were even here. To be able to repay that to them means the world.