Sunday 25 August 2019

Toronto pay penalty as Seattle steal glory in MLS

Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports
Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Steve Keating

Seattle Sounders won the MLS Cup for the first time by beating Toronto 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.

Roman Torres scored the winning spot-kick after 120 minutes of goalless action to complete a stunning second half of the season for the Sounders, in which they lost just four of 21 games.

Having failed to manage a single shot on target in 120 minutes, Seattle - who have reached the play-offs in each of their eight years in the league - must have feared coming up short yet again, but they found the target when it mattered most.

Brad Evans, Andreas Ivanschitz, Joevin Jones and Nicolas Lodeiro also scored in the shoot-out for Seattle, while Clint Irwin stopped Alvaro Fernandez. Stefan Frei capped a night of spectacular saves by denying Toronto captain Michael Bradley before Justin Morrow crashed his effort off the crossbar.

Frei, who spent five seasons with Toronto, tormented his former team-mates, earning the Most Valuable Player award after a string of saves thwarted a high-powered Toronto attack that had produced 17 goals in five play-off contests.

His best save came deep into extra-time, when the Swiss star was at full stretch to tip away a looping header from Jozy Altidore.

"It looked like it was going to go in and then all of a sudden here comes this paw and he gets a hold of it," said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer. "It was a tremendous save."

For Toronto and their fans it was a crushing result. They dominated for the entire 120 minutes, but could not breach a Seattle defence that had conceded just three goals in five play-off matches.

"They always had numbers around in the box," lamented Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

"Whenever we got into those areas there were times we just couldn't find that final pass."

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