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Winners & Losers: Sounders vs. Minnesota United

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Roman Torres and Joevin Jones top our list.

The Seattle Sounders finished the 2019 regular season with an intense 1-0 home win against Minnesota United, securing the second seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs. The Sounders will now take the next two weeks to prepare for their MLS-record 11th straight playoff appearance. They will face FC Dallas, who defeated an already eliminated Sporting Kansas City, 6-0.

The game saw a fantastic performance from the defensive unit, who have now secured back-to-back clean sheets and have three shutouts in their past four matches. Roman Torres started in place of the suspended Xavier Arreaga and scored the lone goal. The Sounders will now hope that the eight players headed out on international duty will return with no injuries, as they look to make their third appearance in the MLS Cup final.

Winners

Roman Torres’ bid to reclaim his starting spot

Unquestionably the Man of the Match, Torres secured his much sought-after first goal for the Sounders in the 29th minute, connecting on a well-placed cross from Joevin Jones. Torres made a cameo appearance last week against the San Jose Earthquakes, playing about eight minutes in that match. But coming off of a 10-game suspension, there was understandably some apprehension about his ability to go a full 90 minutes in a high-stakes game.

However, the Panamanian hardly put a foot wrong all game, leading the team in clearances and displaying his trademark physicality. Coach Brian Schmetzer now appears spoiled for choice for the upcoming game, with three capable centerbacks available for selection.

Brian Schmetzer’s faith in Joevin Jones

Jones has been much maligned since his return to the Sounders. But it’s fair to call this game his best since rejoining the team. Jones was generally dangerous and attacked all game, and had a beautiful assist on Torres’ goal. Just before that, Jones had a difficult shot saved by Vito Mannone in the 28th minute. With Victor Rodriguez’s health an unknown, having Jones as an option in the attack will surely aid Schmetzer and the Sounders as they look to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The prospect of more home playoff games

Thanks to results in the Eastern Conference, the Sounders were able to move up to fourth in the Supporters’ Shield table. That means that as long as the Sounders keep winning, they’ll host at least two playoff games, and the possibility of hosting MLS Cup is at least a realistic possibility. New York City FC has been the Eastern Conference’s best team for the second-half of the season, but that half of the bracket seems reasonably wide open. If the Sounders were to face anyone other than NYCFC or Atlanta United in the final, MLS Cup would be played in Seattle.

LOSERS

Ozzie’s dream return

Osvaldo Alonso was clearly fighting back tears when the Sounders presented him with a framed copy of the All-Time Best XI poster. The fans welcomed him back with hearty cheers when he was announced in the starting lineup. Maybe the plan was to throw him off his game. Alonso definitely wasn’t bad in this game, but aside from one potential goal-saving tackle on Raúl Ruidíaz he didn’t have much of an influence. He also seemed to go in a little softer than expected on some tackles with Nicolas Lodeiro. Whatever the reason, we definitely appreciated it.

Gold elevator’s chance at glory

It was all set up for a big win on the season’s final day. The team’s social media account had given us a bit of a teaser. There were fans wearing Gold Elevator shirts in the stands. It even got a shoutout in this awesome drawing. But the operators of the Space Needle elevator race are playing a game we can’t even hope to understand. Rather that come up with a big win, Gold Elevator never even made it out of the starter’s blocks and finished dead last. Is this its destiny?

Adrian Heath’s quest for a first win against Sounders

Adrian Heath has now faced the Sounders eight times as a MLS head coach. Eight times he has failed to get a win. His loss on Sunday dropped his record to 0-7-1 against the Sounders, which includes five losses in five trips to CenturyLink Field.

MLS playoff schedule for the first round

If you needed any evidence of where MLS stands on the television totem pole, look no further than the playoff schedule. From absurd playoff start times (Toronto hosting DC United at 9 AM Pacific) to obscure channels (Real Salt Lake hosting Portland on ESPNews) MLS’s decision to play games on Saturday during the heart of the college football season meant they were going to struggle to even find time slots to broadcast their games. It’s a stark reminder of how much MLS’s television partners value them relative to their other sports properties.