December 10, 2016
By Michael Lewis
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM
Outplayed Sounders win MLS Cup over Toronto FC in pks
TORONTO -- The third time was the charm for Seattle Sounders FC Saturday night.
|Goalkeeper Stefan Frei made seven saves before the final whistle and one more in penalty kicks to lead Seattle Sounders FC to the MLS Cup crown Saturday at BMO Field.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Despite being outplayed for most of the match, the Sounders won their first Division 1 pro soccer title, outlasting Toronto FC in penalty kicks, 5-4, after playing 120 minutes of scoreless soccer to capture MLS Cup at before a capacity crowd of 36,045 at BMO Field.
The game, which lasted 120 laborious and sometimes tedious minutes, was considered one of the poorest in quality of the 21 championship games in Major League Soccer history.
While playing in the first incarnation of the North American Soccer League, the Sounders reached Soccer Bowl in 1977 and 1982, but each time fell to the New York Cosmos.
After Toronto defender Justin Morrow knocked his attempt off the crossbar, defender Roman Torres converted the game-winning PK in the sudden-death round, snapping a right-footed attempt past goalkeeper Clint Irwin into the center of the net.
Brad Evans, Andreas Ivanschitz, Joevin Jones and Nicolas Lodeiro also converted their attempts for the Sounders as Alvaro Fernandez had his try saved by Irwin.
For Toronto, Jozy Altidore, Benoit Cheyrou, Will Johnson and Drew Moor put home their tries. Stefan Frei saved Toronto captain Michael Bradley's attempt after the U.S. international took a stutter step and appeared indecisive just before he took his kick.
Toronto took 19 shots, putting seven on goal, where Seattle attempted but three and never tested Irwin.
The first half highlights won't be used on an all-time MLS Cup highlight video because they were few and far between.
Both teams tried to attack, but could get off few opportunities to be called truly dangerous.
Perhaps the best one came in the 30th minute when Altidore found himself on the Seattle doorstep and headed a shot that Frei saved.
Four minutes into the second half, Sebastian Giovinco brought the partisan crowd to a group moan as his close-range attempt sailed barely wide right.
Frei, a former Toronto player, turned out to be the hero for the visitors, making a superb save on Altidore in the 108th minute. Tosaint Ricketts, who replaced Giovinco in the first extratime, lofted a right wing cross to the U.S. international striker. Altidore headed the ball toward the upper right corner. Frei leaped across the box to knock away the shot with an outstretched left arm to save the day for the Sounders.