Through 75 minutes it looked like the Seattle Sounders might be left wanting with a broken home playoff win streak, but a historic comeback saw them prevail as 3-2 over Minnesota United on Monday at Lumen Field. The Sounders created chances throughout the game, and still Minnesota took a 2-0 lead off two set pieces from Emanuel Reynoso.
Where at times disjointed passing and lackluster finishing — coupled with some bad luck — cursed the Sounders in the first half, Brian Schmetzer’s side showed tenacity and an absolute refusal to give up in the final quarter-hour of the game. Starting with a goal from Will Bruin in the 75th minute, Seattle stormed back to equalize through Raúl Ruidíaz in the 90th minute. The Sounders kept pushing and their pressure paid off when Gustav Svensson, in his first appearance since national team duty in early November, rose up to connect with a Nico Lodeiro corner in the final moments of stoppage time and sent the ball into the back of the net, and put the Sounders into the MLS Cup Final. The Sounders will face Columbus Crew on Saturday at 5:00 PM PT as they seek to retain their title as MLS Cup Champions.
15’ — Lodeiro gets the first good look at the goal as a Cristian Roldan cross goes through the box to find the midfielder about 12 yards out. He can’t keep his shot down, and it results in a Minnesota goal kick.
29’ — Following a dangerous tackle by O’Neill, Reynoso beats Frei with a wickedly curling free kick from about 30 yards out to take the lead. 1-0
45’+1 — Seattle gets a good look off of a corner at the end of the half when Morris flicks on a Lodeiro corner that reaches Ruidíaz in the penalty area, but his shot is just over the bar.
53’ — Ruidíaz appears to even things up with a goal on the break after bodying Boxall and beating St. Clair from the top of the box, but it’s called back for a foul after video review.
67’ — An Alex Roldan foul sets up a Minnesota free kick, off of which Reynoso finds Dibassy. Dibassy’s header beats Frei to the far post to double the lead. 2-0
75’ — Bruin narrows the deficit, picking up a loose ball off of a Ruidíaz shot and firing it into the far side of the net. 2-1
90’ — Ruidíaz pounces on a corner at the far side of the goal after Lodeiro’s service is flicked on, and having missed a similar chance earlier he makes no mistake to tie the game. 2-2
94’ — Lodeiro sends in a corner and Svensson rises to beat his man and meet the ball, and with seconds left in the game he puts the Sounders in the lead. 3-2
Weird year: No one needs to be reminded of everything that’s made this the strangest Sounders season we’ve ever seen, but in the interest of thoroughness we’ve had: a strange and frustrating CCL series; followed by the onset of the pandemic and a several-month pause on the season after two MLS games; a weird bubble tournament in Orlando; a social uprising in response to unchecked police violence disproportionately aimed at Black people, indigenous people and people of color; one of the strangest presidential elections in history; and a shortened MLS season. There’s more, I’m sure, but that list is intended to demonstrate the strangeness in which this strange game took place. After a frustrating first hour and change that saw the Sounders create sporadic chances but trailing by two goals off of set pieces, the Sounders dug deep and in the final minute of stoppage time they completed a wild comeback. That’s two straight unconventional wins, but now they’re playing for another MLS Cup.
Players for the moment: It’s no mistake the names that are on the score sheet for the Sounders in this one. Not just the stars, although it’s huge that Lodeiro and Ruidíaz played key roles in the comeback, but vets like Svensson and Bruin were brought in for their experience and skill in matches like this one. Bruin and Ruidíaz are both tied with Jozy Altidore for the most playoff goals for an active MLS player with 9 apiece after this one, and Lodeiro stretched his own record to 7 consecutive playoff games with an assist. There were missed chances and frustrating moments, but the key players showed up when it mattered most.
Just put it anywhere: You may have heard the commentators talk a lot about how few shots Seattle put on target, maybe you’ve been razzed about how they didn’t have any in the 2016 MLS Cup Final, and maybe you’ve looked at the stats from this game and thrown your hands up at the fact that the Sounders took a whopping 24 shots and only put 5, including the 3 actual goals, on frame. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s frustrating, and at times disheartening especially when the team is trailing in a game they should be winning, to see players get golden chances and put their shot over the bar. What matters is consistently creating those chances, and in this game the Sounders created plenty of chances, Minnesota just happened to do a good job of getting in the way of a lot of them. Seattle took 16 of their 24 shots from inside — or just on the line of — the box, and it’s no surprise that eventually they found the back of the net. Most of those shots came in the back end of the second half, but they created chances throughout the match, and there’s no reason to expect they’ll stop doing that any time soon.
Did you see that?!?
WHAT A GOAL! WHAT A MOMENT!— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) December 8, 2020
THE GUSTAV GAME-WINNER! pic.twitter.com/cKBCm2McV8
Maybe you fainted, or just went to sleep early out of frustration, but they really did that.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer on fifth final: “It hasn’t sunk in. God I wish the fans were there. I wish I was there watching the game with ECS. I haven’t had a chance to soak it in. In our history, this will go down as one of our best games ever.”
One stat to tell the tale
6 — The Sounders are now a perfect 6-0-0 in the six conference final matches they’ve played under Brian Schmetzer (the first conference finals were two legs).
Man of the match
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