The fourth edition of Sounders FC Classics, a new series in which we re-air some of the best matches in club history, comes out on Saturday.
In this installment, the club will be re-airing the 2019 Western Conference Final, when the Sounders dismantled Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC 3-1 at Banc of California to advance to MLS Cup for the third time in four seasons.
Here are three matchups that decided match, presented by Toyota.
Xavier Arreaga vs. Carlos Vela
Entering the Western Conference Final, LAFC talisman Carlos Vela was in the midst of the best campaign in league history. With 36 goals and 16 assists from 32 appearances heading into the match, his level of individual output was unparalleled in Major League Soccer.
Sounders center back Xavier Arreaga, who stepped into the starting XI in place of the injured Román Torres, nullified Vela from the opening whistle, setting the tone early with a powerful shoulder-to-shoulder challenge to break up a dangerous attack. Under the watchful eye of Arreaga, who notched one tackle, two interceptions, three recoveries and seven clearances – Vela had an uncharacteristically quiet night, as he posted just a single shot on target.
Gustav Svensson vs. LAFC midfield
Since he joined the club in 2017, Gustav Svensson has been one of the most underrated defensive midfielders in MLS. However, the Swedish enforcer earned plenty of due praise for his herculean efforts against LAFC, as he effectively shutdown their entire midfield engine room.
All season long, LAFC had swarmed teams using lightning quick transitions, sustained possession in central midfield, and relentless counter-pressing. Svensson, along with Cristian Roldan, completely disrupted their game plan as he broke up possession and made smart, tactical fouls any time LAFC’s midfielders found space between the lines. The hosts’ midfielders were unable to dictate the tempo in the Western Conference Final as Svensson collected three tackles, one interception and three recoveries.
I’ve been critical of Gustav Svensson in the past, but he put up one of the best playoff performances I’ve ever seen last night.— herculez gomez (@herculezg) October 30, 2019
He was an animal. 🦍
Dominated the LAFC midfield. #SoundersMatchday
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Eddie Segura
Squared off against one of the best up-and-coming center backs in the league, Raúl Ruidíaz put on a masterclass against Eddie Segura, notching two goals and one assist in the 3-1 victory. The first goal for Seattle’s goal-scoring machine was a stroke of pure genius, pirouetting around Segura before rifling his shot inside the near post mere minutes after LAFC had taken the lead. Ruidíaz then fended off the Colombian defender before playing the ball to Joevin Jones, who then found Nicolás Lodeiro for the go-ahead goal.