SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC on penalties on Saturday night to claim their first ever MLS Cup. After 90 minutes of regular time, followed by an additional 30 minutes of added time, during which neither side really ever came that close to scoring, the decisive penalty fell to Seattle’s Roman Torres.
The Panamanian defender stepped up confidently and dutifully drove the decisive kick past Toronto keeper Clint Irwin. It was fitting that Torres would claim the decisive moment. The 30-year-old former Millonarios man had been given the toughest job on order for the occasion – marking Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco – and discharged it with aplomb.
Giovinco, who may have been carrying a bit of an injury, was largely kept under wraps throughout the 90 and into extra time, when he was subbed off for Tosaint Ricketts. The Italian seemed visibly upset when he was withdrawn, despite having indicated to the bench that he was having a hard time. Overall, it was a forgettable night for the player who has scored a remarkable 43 goals and made 29 assists in his two seasons in MLS.
Toronto’s other Designated Players, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, also had somewhat forgettable nights, except for Bradley that is, who will be remembered for taking a weak penalty kick that was easily saved by Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.
Altidore came close to breaking the deadlock in the second minute of the match, playing a one-two with Giovinco, breaking through on goal but putting his shot wide of Frei’s goal. The USMNT striker had another chance in the 30th minute but headed the ball straight at Frei.
Giovinco hit the side netting in the second half and Altidore came close once again in extra time, only to be denied by Frei. All in all, chances on goal were at a premium at BMO Field on Saturday. As poor as TFC were in attack, Seattle were worse, having earned the unwanted distinction of being the first club to win MLS Cup without registering a single shot on goal.
That’s not to say Seattle weren’t deserving winners. While marquee attacking stars like Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Nelson Valdez were fairly anonymous, Seattle’s defense put in a master class. Torres in particular was absolutely masterful in his marshaling of Giovinco, despite catching a volley from the former Juventus striker square in the face early in the match.
Frei also had a good match, denying Altidore on more than one occasion. He made a heroic stand in the penalty shootout as well, saving Bradley’s effort after Altidore and Seattle’s Brad Evans had both converted for their respective clubs. Andreas Ivanschitz converted for Seattle, as did Benoit Cheyrou for Toronto.
This time it would be Irwin’s turn to intervene with the TFC keeper denying Alvaro Fernandez. Will Johnson and Drew Moor both converted for Toronto, as did Joevin Jones and Lodeiro for Seattle.
So it was the opportunity to win the game for Toronto fell to Justin Morrow. But the full back’s effort rocketed off the crossbar, leaving it to Torres and Seattle.
The man who’d effectively marked Giovinco made no mistake in blasting a shot high and right of Irwin that found the back of the net and sent the Emerald City faithful into an ecstatic frenzy as the Seattle Sounders cemented their position as one of MLS’s “super clubs” by claiming their first ever MLS Cup title.