SEATTLE – For the second time in four years, the Seattle Sounders are MLS Cup champions.
Kelvin Leerdam scored the opening goal in the 57th minute, Víctor Rodríguez added a second in the 76th and Raúl Ruidíaz added a third in second-half stoppage time, pacing the Sounders to a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final in front of a record sold-out crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field.
The triumph marks the Sounders’ second league title after their penalty kick victory – also over Toronto – at BMO Field in 2016.
After a scoreless first half, Leerdam found the breakthrough in the 57th minute after he teed up a rocket of a shot that deflected off Toronto’s Justin Morrow, past Westberg and into the net, giving the Sounders a 1-0 lead and sending the sellout crowd into bedlam.
Rodríguez then provided the decisive blow in the 76th with a bending shot past a diving Westberg to push the score line to 2-0, before Ruidíaz added the dagger with a finish in second-half stoppage time. Jozy Altidore would pull one back for TFC, but it would be of no consequence as the Sounders saw out the 3-1 final.
There aren’t many words to describe how electric the scene was at the CLink. The sold-out crowd made up the largest non-concert event in the history of the venue and made it the highest-attended soccer match in the history of Washington state. That energy was crucial in helping the Sounders get the boost they needed in the second half, after a tough opening 45 minutes that saw Toronto FC show they were a worthy adversary. History was made on Sunday in every sense of the word – a spectacle the city will remember forever.
What a moment for Víctor Rodríguez, who had a difficult regular season that saw him miss chunks of the season with nagging injuries. After Sunday’s finish, the relief and pure happiness on Rodríguez’s face was palpable. The Spaniard was then rewarded with the game’s MVP for his work. No one deserved that more.
RESPECT THE NAME
The new kids on the block have been getting most of the MLS headlines over the last couple of years, and expansion teams like Atlanta United and LAFC have earned their share of adulation for their launches and quick on-field success. But if Sunday was a reminder of anything, it’s that the standard of the game in this country still runs through the Pacific Northwest, as the Sounders have now played in three of the last four finals and won two of them, while also bagging a Supporters’ Shield and four US Open Cups over that time. If anyone wants the crown, they’ll have to come take it from the CLink.