Sounders beat Toronto FC on penal­ties to win MLS Cup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The Seat­tle Sounders claimed their first Ma­jor League Soccer Cup by beat­ing Toronto FC 5-4 on penal­ties af­ter their ti­tle game ended 0-0 af­ter extra-time on Saturday.

Af­ter Toronto’s Justin Mor­row hit the cross­bar, Seat­tle de­fender Ro­man Tor­res coolly ham­mered home the de­cider as the Sounders fi­nally cel­e­brated vic­tory fol­low­ing seven sea­sons of near misses.

With zero shots on goal af­ter 120 min­utes it looked as if the Sounders, who have reached the play­offs in each of their eight years in the league, would come up short yet again but found the tar­get when it mat­tered most.

Brad Evans, An­dreas Ivan­shitz, Jo­evin Jones and Ni­co­las Lodeiro also scored in the shootout for Seat­tle while Sounders goal­keeper capped an evening of spec­tac­u­lar saves by deny­ing Mor­row and Toronto cap­tain Michael Bradley.

Frei, who spent five sea­sons with TFC, re­turned to tor­ment his for­mer team mates earn­ing MLS Cup most valu­able player hon­ours af­ter shut­ting out a high-pow­ered Toronto at­tack that had pro­duced 17 goals in five play­off con­tests.

The Seat­tle keeper’s big­gest save, how­ever, did not come in the shootout but deep into extra time when the Swiss dove across the net at full stretch and with his left hand tipped away a loop­ing header from Jozy Alti­dore.

“It looked like it was go­ing to go in and then all of a sud­den here comes this paw and he gets a hold of it,” praised Sounders coach Brian Sch­met­zer.

“It was a tremen­dous save but there were a cou­ple of other times I thought the ball might have gone in.” For TFC and their fans it was a crush­ing re­sult to a con­test they had dom­i­nated for 120 min­utes but could not breach a Seat­tle de­fence that had con­ceded just three goals in five play­off matches.

“They al­ways had num­bers around the goal and in the box,” lamented Toronto coach Greg Vanney. “When­ever we got into those ar­eas there were times we just couldn’t get that fi­nal pass to some­one who could fin­ish.

“The few times we hit the goal Frei picks things out.” It was per­fect ice hockey weather at BMO Field, which in three weeks will host the NHL’s Cen­ten­nial Clas­sic out­door game, but the bone-chill­ing tem­per­a­tures did lit­tle to cool down a fired up ca­pac­ity crowd of close to 36,000.

Toronto made a lively start and en­joyed the run of play in a scrappy open­ing half. The Reds’ best scor­ing chance came early when Alti­dore squeezed a shot from in­side the area that sliced by the post and a div­ing Frei in the sec­ond minute.

Af­ter the break it was Se­bas­tian Giovinco, the other half of Toronto’s strike part­ner­ship, fi­nally find­ing space down the left wing com­ing close when he ripped a shot that just missed the near post.

Toronto nearly ended the drama with an in­jury time winner when Bradley sent in a cor­ner that Frei nar­rowly punched clear just be­fore a div­ing Alti­dore could get his head on the ball.

But it was Frei’s save on Alti­dore in the 108th minute that Vanney be­lieves robbed his team of a ti­tle. “That was one of the great saves that I have seen in a big mo­ment be­cause that goal to me ends the game,” said Vanney. “We win if we do that. He saved the game for them.”

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