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Sounders Moment of the Year: Gustav Svensson’s goal

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The only thing missing was being able to share it with our friends.

SOCCER: DEC 07 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final - Minnesota United FC at Seattle Sounders Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For many of our most memorable sports moments, we can recall exactly where we were. The tape in our mind plays that angle every single time we think about it. I remember I was in the Brougham End — section 120 to be exact — when Osvaldo Alonso scored the goal that sealed the Seattle Sounders 2011 U.S. Open Cup victory. I can tell you I was sitting next to Andrew Harvey in the third row of the BMO Field press box when Román Torres’ penalty gave the Sounders their 2016 MLS Cup win. I vividly recall celebrating wildly at the Park Pub in Phinney Ridge while watching the Sounders beat LAFC in the 2019 Western Conference finals to qualify for MLS Cup.

My memories of Gustav Svensson’s goal against Minnesota United are equally tied to my vantage point. Unlike those previous ones, however, the historic moment was marked in relative solitude. I was alone in my basement and let out a yell so loud that my kids were significantly sidetracked from their already later-than-ideal bed time.

I suspect many of you experienced something very similar. Maybe you had a housemate with you, a spouse or maybe even a random friend, but I would venture to guess that it was not a moment you experienced collectively with a large group, at least not in real life.

In a way, that’s only fitting. We spent so much of this year in relative isolation, away from friends, co-workers and, of course, our fellow Sounders fans, that it makes sense that one of the most memorable moments in Sounders history will be indelibly linked to watching it at home. It should also come as no surprise that this goal was overwhelmingly chosen by Sounder at Heart readers as our Moment of 2020 with nearly 85% of the vote.

While a fitting way to watch that moment, it also goes down as the moment I suspect most of us most wish we’d been able to see in person. The cheers we all let out were loud enough to wake our children individually, but probably would have rivaled the seismic activity that was measured during the 2019 MLS Cup.

Even without that collective experience, the goal will surely go down in history as one of the most memorable in Sounders history. Not only was it one of the latest regulation game-winners in MLS playoff history — coming in the 93rd minute — but it also capped off a history-making comeback. The Sounders became just the seventh team in MLS history to win a playoff game they trailed by two goals and the only one who started their comeback as late as the 75th minute.

Latest playoff winners

Minute Round Date Score goal-scorer
Minute Round Date Score goal-scorer
99+ Conference finals 11/29/2018 POR 3 at KC 2 Diego Valeri
95+ Play-in Round 11/20/2020 NE 2 vs MTL 1 Gustavo Bou
94+ Conference finals 11/29/2018 NYR 1 vs ATL 0 Tim Parker
94+ Conference semi-finals 11/4/2012 SJ 1 at LA 0 Victor Bernardez
93+ Conference finals 11/29/2015 NYR 1 vs LA 0 Anatole Abang
93+ Conference finals 12/7/2020 SEA 3 vs MIN 2 Gustav Svensson

Svensson’s goal seemed to be a near perfect encapsulation of the Sounders’ season to that point, showcasing their relentless drive and refusal to concede a result. It had been made possible by the Sounders’ effectively keeping Minnesota pinned back in their end for all of stoppage time, three times forcing turnovers to maintain possession. They had nearly won the game about a minute prior to Svensson’s goal when Raúl Ruidíaz’s shot from inside the box ricocheted off a United defender and clanged off the near post.

With less than a minute of added time remaining, the Sounders won their second corner of stoppage time. Nicolás Lodeiro swung in a perfectly in-swinging ball that Svensson was first to. His header gently slid over the first defender, past Dayne St. Clair and into the net, securing a second consecutive trip to MLS Cup.

That the Sounders went on to suffer one of their most disappointing losses in their history takes a bit of the shine off this moment, but I suspect we’ll all remember it all the same, even more so because of the circumstances around it.