It had to be Víctor Rodríguez.
2019 has been an up-and-down season for the dynamic, clever winger. Despite missing almost half the season through injuries, Rodríguez always made a positive whenever he took the pitch.
In the MLS Cup final against Toronto on Sunday, Rodríguez once again demonstrated his class on the ball, coming off the bench in the second half and scoring the game-winning goal in the 76th minute. He was rightly awarded the MLS Cup MVP.
“I am really happy for [my teammates], for the goal, for the victory, for this MLS Cup,” said Rodríguez. “I know we deserve that.”
It wasn’t just his goal that changed the game for Seattle. Toronto had dominated possession all match, pinning Seattle in their half and putting the hosts in bend-don’t-break mode. When Rodríguez entered the fray, his composure on the ball and technical ability in tight spaces helped the Sounders regain control of proceedings.
“I think in the second half, we tried a little more of our soccer, our football,” added Rodríguez. “We kept a little more of the possession. This was, for me, key for the game."
Despite missing large swaths of the season through injury, the Spanish winger continued to grind day-in, day-out at training. According to his teammates, Rodríguez’s match-winning display off the bench was a just reward for his persistence behind the scenes.
“I’m so proud of him, working through injuries and coming back and having a big moment,” said Jordan Morris. “It was massive.”
Added Nicolás Lodeiro: “I’m very happy because Víctor is a very good person… He deserves it. Today he was the MVP because he works a lot. I’m very happy for him.”
Through all of the hardship, setbacks and disappointment, Rodríguez continued to fight so that he could be ready to help his team when called upon. On Sunday, he delivered in the biggest way possible.
In large part due to the contributions of Rodríguez, the Sounders were able to lift the MLS Cup in front of a record crowd of almost 70,000 supporters.