SEATTLE—The Seattle Sounders got the best of Toronto FC in Sunday’s MLS Cup final rubber match, producing a comprehensive 3-1 victory to the delight of a record-setting home crowd.
It was Seattle’s second championship victory over the Reds in four years, after hoisting the Cup at BMO Field in 2016. Toronto won the second of three finals between these teams in 2017.
The loss snapped a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Reds.
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 57th minute against the run of play. Striker Raul Ruidiaz played a ball from the top of the box into defender Kevin Leerdam on his right. Leerdam escaped a toe-poke challenge from Toronto’s Nicolas Benezet before he put a ball across the box, which deflected off Reds defender Justin Morrow and past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg to break the deadlock. The goal was given to Leerdam, though it appeared to be a textbook own goal, and became Seattle’s first MLS Cup goal in open play in 267 minutes.
It livened the home crowd, which had fallen quiet when the visitors took charge of the game with its composed and free-flowing style. And the wheels fell off for the Reds.
Toronto tried to bounce back quickly, bringing on midfielder Nick DeLeon and striker Jozy Altidore in quick succession. It was Altidore’s first appearance in the playoffs after missing the first three rounds because of a quadriceps strain.
But Seattle made two in the 76th minute when substitute Victor Rodriguez — named the final’s most valuable player — put a shot from the top of the box low and hard into the far corner of Toronto’s net. Ruidiaz added a third in the 90th minute, when he beat Reds defender Chris Mavinga in a foot race down the middle of the field, much to the chagrin of Westberg.
The Reds has the lion’s share of possession but struggled to execute, with just five of 14 shots hitting the target. By the time Altidore headed home Toronto’s lone goal of the day, assisted by TFC man of the match Alejandro Pozuelo, the home crowd was already so deep into celebration mode the setback barely registered.
The 69,274 fans made up the largest crowd for a sporting event in CenturyLink Field history and the largest ever gathered for a soccer game in the state of Washington.
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