TORONTO, ONTARIO - Traveling to face Toronto FC in MLS Cup for the second consecutive season, Sounders FC fell 2-0 on the road Saturday evening in front of 30,584 fans at BMO Field. Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez scored for the Reds, who captured their first MLS Cup after losing to Seattle last season via penalty kicks. Sounders FC's ninth Major League Soccer campaign comes to an end after a standout season in which it finished second in the Western Conference before registering four straight shutouts in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs until Saturday's championship fixture.
The home side got off the starting blocks quickly, applying pressure to the Rave Green during the first 15 minutes of the contest, only to be rebuffed by 2016 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player Stefan Frei and his backline. The Seattle goalkeeper provided two critical saves for his side during the opening exchange, first making a diving stop to his right, denying Jonathan Osorio on a loose ball shot inside Seattle's area in the 10th minute. One minute later, Frei combined with centerback Chad Marshall to thwart an onrushing Sebastian Giovinco, getting just enough of the ball to deflect the Italian playmaker's shot.
It was Giovinco who had the match's next best opportunity in the 23rd minute, weaving through Seattle's defense, unleashing an attempt from almost point-blank range at Seattle's near post. Once again, Frei frustrated Toronto's attack, getting a firm right hand to the ball, pushing it away to safety.
Frei closed his emphatic first-half performance with a diving, low save on Vasquez, as the attacker ripped a shot from the edge of Seattle's area, forcing Sounders FC's netminder to stretch all the way down to his right. The save capped an incredible first 45 minutes for Frei, as his six saves in one half tied him for the second-most in MLS Cup history, trailing only San Jose's Pat Onstad in 2003 (seven saves in one half).
Frei picked right back up where he left off in the second half, making arguably his best save of the day in the 64th minute, once again on Giovinco. Altidore laid the ball off for the Italian, allowing for a clean look at goal, with Frei once again making a fraught, diving save to deny the home side.
TFC finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the 67th minute, as Altidore found himself through on goal courtesy of a Giovinco through ball, leaving Seattle's backline scrambling to recover on the counter-attack. Frei came off his line, and Altidore chipped a shot into the back of Seattle's net to make the score 1-0 Toronto.
The Reds added a second goal in second-half stoppage time after pouncing on a turnover in Seattle's defensive half. Vasquez played a quick pass to the feet of Giovinco, who then put Armando Cooper through on goal. Cooper's shot ricocheted back off the post for a Vasquez tap-in from close range, allowing Toronto to seal a 2-0 victory for their first MLS Cup title.
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones (Nouhou 90+1'); Cristian Roldan, Gustav Svensson, Nicolás Lodeiro - captain, Clint Dempsey, Victor Rodriguez (Jordan Morris 71'); Will Bruin
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Tony Alfaro, Harry Shipp, Lamar Neagle, Jordy Delem
Toronto FC - Alexander Bono; Steven Beitashour, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow; Michael Bradley - captain, Marco Delgado (Benoit Cheyrou 90+3'), Jonathan Osorio (Armando Cooper 85'), Victor Vazquez; Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore (Nick Hagglund 86')
Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Nicolas Hasler, Eriq Zavaleta, Tosaint Ricketts
- Sounders FC falls in MLS Cup after appearing in the match for the second consecutive season. This year's rematch marked the third time in league history that the same two teams met in MLS Cup in consecutive seasons, with Seattle winning via penalty kicks last season. Seattle now has a 14-11-6 record all-time in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and its streak of six consecutive series wins was snapped.
- Sounders FC extended its Audi MLS Cup Playoffs record shutout streak to 714 minutes, now 340 minutes more than the previous record set by New England in 2002. The streak was snapped in the 67th minute tonight on Jozy Altidore's game-winning goal, marking the first postseason goal surrendered by Seattle since the first leg of the 2016 Western Conference Championship against Colorado. Stefan Frei's postseason record individual shutout streak ended at 624 minutes.
- After taking over in July of 2016, Sounders FC Head Coach Schmetzer has compiled a 29-13-17 record in MLS regular-season and postseason action, including a 7-2-2 record in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Sounders FC is 7-4-3 all-time against Toronto FC in MLS competitions, with this being the second postseason meeting between the two sides.