TORONTO – The Seattle Sounders’ drive for an MLS Cup repeat came up just short, as Jozy Altidore scored the opener and Víctor Vázquez added the insurance at the death to lift Toronto FC to their first-ever championship at BMO Field on Saturday.
The defeat denied the Sounders their second-consecutive championship, a year after they bagged their first against the same TFC squad at BMO in 2016.
Seattle withstood a wave of pressure from TFC in the first half and managed to escape to the locker room with the score 0-0, thanks to some more standout goalkeeping from last year’s MLS Cup MVP Stefan Frei. TFC had a score of chances throughout the first half but Frei managed to deny looks from Jonathan Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco and Altidore to keep the game scoreless.
Altidore would break through in the 67th, though, finishing a perfectly weighted pass from Giovinco past Frei on a counterattack, giving TFC the 1-0 lead. Vázquez then deflected in the second goal in the waning moments of stoppage time to seal the 2-0 scoreline.
NO CAPTAIN LOOMS LARGE
Sounders captain Ozzie Alonso was ruled out earlier in the week leading up to the game, unable to get to fitness with a quad injury. The absence loomed large. Seattle struggled to maintain possession throughout the evening and cut out Toronto’s counterattacks when they lost it, two areas in which the Cuban midfielder has always excelled.
Frei is already a club legend for his spectacular game-saving denial of Altidore last year and he provided another demonstration that he is indeed one of the league’s very best goalkeepers on Saturday. The 31-year-old almost single-handedly kept Seattle in the game, swatting away shot after shot from TFC’s star-studded attack. The defeat will surely sting for Seattle but going into the offseason, there’s no doubt they’re in good hands between the goalposts.
TIP OF THE CAP
Toronto was in the discussion as the best team in MLS history before this game coming off their record-breaking, Supporters’ Shield-winning regular season. On Saturday, they showed why. Michael Bradley and Giovinco were brilliant, Altidore did what he does best and the TFC defense managed to neutralize Sounders fullbacks Joevin Jones and Kelvin Leerdam – something that had proven extremely tough for the rest of the league to do. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap.