Seattle claims 2nd title in 4 years, beating Toronto FC 3-1 to me MLS Champs


SEATTLE (AP) — Kelvin Leerdam scored his first career postseason goal on a deflected shot in the 57th minute, substitute Victor Rodriguez connected in the 76th and Raul Ruidiaz added the capper in the 90th to give the Seattle Sounders a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday in the MLS Cup for their second title in four seasons.

Playing before the second-largest crowd for an MLS Cup final, the Sounders withstood a nervy first 45 minutes before capitalizing on their opportunities in the second half.

Leerdam scored Seattle’s first goal of this season back in March and claimed the winner when what looked to be a cross deflected off the shin of Toronto’s Justin Morrow and past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. Leerdam’s goal was the release Seattle needed. Rodriguez’s goal started with Gustav Svensson’s pass to Nicolas Lodeiro that left perfectly for Rodriguez near the top of the penalty area. He took a couple of touches to find space and Westberg couldn’t get his hand on the shot to the far post.

Ruidiaz’s capper was one more moment to celebrate for the 69,274 in attendance, beating Chris Mavinga to a clearance and scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Jozy Altidore, who hadn’t played in more than a month and came on as a substitute midway through the second half, pulled one back for Toronto in the third minute of stoppage time.

Seattle became the sixth franchise in league history with multiple titles. The Sounders joined Houston, Sporting Kansas City and San Jose with two titles. The LA Galaxy have five, and D.C. United four.

Meeting for the third time in the past four years in the final, the third chapter was among the most anticipated matches in league history. Seattle helped changed the scope of the league when it arrived 10 years ago and relished the opportunity to host the final for the first time with the home team playing.

For all the fans that showed up, it was an uneasy first 50-plus minutes. Toronto dominated possession and seemed the more likely side to find a goal. They controlled possession. They connected their passes more often. They seemed comfortable in the setting, while Seattle seemed uneasy.

It was one momentary breakdown by Toronto and a bit of luck that allowed Seattle to take the lead.

Ruidiaz had been mostly quiet outside of a great scoring chance in the final minute of the first half that was saved by Westberg. He found enough space at the top of the penalty area to send a diagonal pass to Leerdam. He was initially challenged by Nicolas Benezet, but was able to break free. His ball into the middle of the goal mouth appeared more like a cross than shot, but it didn’t matter when it caught the left shin of Morrow and went past a helpless Westberg.

Seattle’s record crowd erupted after nearly an hour of nervous energy building. It was Seattle’s first goal in a final in 267 minutes after being held scoreless in each of the two finals played in Toronto. For Morrow it was another forgettable moment in a final after he missed during the sixth round of the penalty shootout in the 2016 final with his shot clanging off the crossbar.

Rodriguez’s goal provided cushion and Ruidiaz’s set off the wild celebration.