Editor's Note: With 2016 winding to a close, SoundersFC.com is taking a look back at the top 10 plays of the Seattle Sounders' 2016 season. We'll release the full list over the course of the week, with the final play being announced on Dec. 31. First up, we're recapping the top plays that fell just short of the top 10.
The Sounders will kick off the 2017 season on Saturday, March 4 against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Aaron Kovar’s first career MLS goal | May 28
The Homegrown midfielder and Stanford University product has scored just once in his three professional seasons, but he finished his lone tally in style.
Against the New England Revolution in Foxborough, Mass., Aaron Kovar gave the Sounders the lead just seven minutes into the match. Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth punched a cross away, but it fell to Kovar’s feet at the top of the box. He corralled the attempted clearance with his left foot, chipped it to himself over defender Chris Tierney and fired a low seeing-eye shot to the far corner.
Kovar eventually missed 14 of the team’s final 15 regular-season matches while recovering from a broken collarbone, but his little moment of brilliance was a bright spot in the Sounders’ rocky start to the season.
Jordan Morris’ game-winner vs. the Colorado Rapids | Nov. 27
The Flu Goal in the Flu Game.
Under the weather and battling a stomach illness, Jordan Morris was not his usual self against the Colorado Rapids in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship. But that didn’t stop him from scoring the coveted away goal in the 56th minute that would send the Sounders through to their first MLS Cup Final appearance.
After a poor clearance, the ball fell to Nelson Valdez 25 yards from goal. He took one touch before slotting a perfect through ball to Morris, who ran onto it and flicked it over goalkeeper Zac MacMath with the outside of his right foot. The goal was Morris’ 14th total of the year, including his second in the series, and the most important of them all.
Jordan Morris’ turn and goal vs. Toronto FC | July 2
Toronto FC’s Jordan Hamilton barely had a chance to celebrate his 60th minute goal before Seattle’s own Jordan found the equalizer.
Morris received a beautiful half-field pass from Joevin Jones that split two defenders. Morris controlled it softly, spun around and in one motion fired a curling shot to the far corner for a tally that was a quarterfinalist for 2016 AT&T MLS Goal of the Year.
Morris saved a point at BMO Field in July and, as further evidenced by his heroics in Colorado, was a big part of the reason why Seattle returned to Toronto for the MLS Cup Final five months later.
Stefan Frei’s save vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | Sept. 17
As he was wont to do all season, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei came up huge in a pivotal home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps in mid-September.
Erik Hurtado sprung past the Sounders’ back line on a break and chipped the oncoming Frei. Hurtado thought he had time to easily head into an open net, but Frei recovered. Just as Hurtado was about to shoot, Frei punched the ball away with an outstretched fist.
Frei’s effort kept the match level, ultimately led to a clean sheet and helped secure three points the Sounders massively needed in their desperate hunt for a postseason berth.
Nicolas Lodeiro’s goal off Jordan Morris’ long run vs. FC Dallas | Oct. 30
Nicolas Lodeiro scored one of the easiest goals of his career in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against FC Dallas, as he was the beneficiary of a brilliant half-field run from Jordan Morris.
Morris started on his own half of the field and drove the left flank after a deft flick-on from Nelson Valdez sent Morris into wide open space. Morris sprinted up the wing, took a cheeky touch to his left around Matt Hedges and then played a perfectly weighted ball in between Maynor Figueroa and goalkeeper Chris Seitz that fell onto the foot of the onrushing Lodeiro.
The goal was the second of the Sounders’ three tallies in an eight-minute span early in the second half that ultimately was too large a deficit for FC Dallas to overcome.