Seattle Sounders win first MLS Cup after winning dramatic penalty shootout, 5-4, over Toronto FC
Seattle Sounders lift their first ever MLS Cup. | Photo: Major League Soccer

Seattle Sounders win first MLS Cup after winning dramatic penalty shootout, 5-4, over Toronto FC

The Sounders clinched their first MLS title in a thrilling final at BMO Field that went straight to the wire.

dylan_walsh
Dylan Walsh
Toronto FCIrwin; Zavaleta, Moor, Huggland; Beltashour, Cooper (Cheyrou, 84th min), Bradley, Osorio (Johnson, 76th min); Morrow, Altidore, Giovinco (Ricketts, 102nd min)
Seattle SoundersFrei; Mears, Torres, Marshall, Jones; Alonso, Roldan, Loderio, Friberg (Fernandez 66th min), Morris (Evans, 107th min); Valdez (Ivanschitz, 72nd min)
REFEREEReferee: Alan Kelly (ROI) Booked: Marshall (45th min), Jones (72nd min), Bradley (90th min)
INCIDENTSMLS Cup final between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders clinched the 2016 MLS Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout against Toronto FC which saw the Sounders seal the cup in sudden death.

Roman Torres scored the winning penalty after Justin Morrow fired the first penalty of sudden death off the crossbar, giving the Panama defender the chance to claim Seattle’s first ever MLS Cup.

Toronto would had felt they could had won the Cup in normal time, having dominated the game for large portions of the match.

Jozy Altidore was a constant menace for the Sounders defence on the night, but the heroics of Stefan Frei kept the Western Conference champions in the game at all times.

Jozy Altidore could not convert any of his chances throughout 120 minutes. | Photo: USA Today Sports
Jozy Altidore could not convert any of his chances throughout 120 minutes. | Photo: USA Today Sports

Toronto dominate from the whistle

Altidore almost opened the scoring in the second minute of play, when the in-form striker linked well with Sebastian Giovinco inside the penalty box. However, the American striker had his effort turned behind by Frei.

The MLS Cup final only took eight minutes to become a fiery affair, as Drew Moor and Nelson Valdez locked horns on multiple occasions in a short space of time, as well as Cristian Roldan and Armando Cooper. But MLS Referee of the Year Alan Kelly refused to brandish any cards this early in the game.

A fiesty start

Altidore continued to torment the Seattle defence, as the former Sunderland striker almost made it 1-0 with a great header from a looping Justin Morrow cross, but Frei was able to make the save at the last second, to deny Altidore the opener.

Despite the frantic start to this eagerly anticipated final, the final 20 minutes of the first half took a step back in terms of intensity and excitement.

Seattle were looking to wear out their opponents and hit the high pressing Toronto defence line on the counter attack, however, Zavaleta and co quickly extinguished their breaks.

Tactical advantage Seattle

The visitor’s tactics meant that Toronto found it difficult to find areas of space to exploit, and the Reds often found themselves relying off set pieces to properly test Frei, which is why it came as no surprise when the half came to a stalemate conclusion.

The second half kicked off similar to the previous half, with Toronto coming close to an opening goal. This time it was Giovinco who could had put the Canadian team ahead after the ball fell into the path of the 2015 MLS MVP, however Giovinco’s first time strike from 12-yards out crashed into the side netting and out for a goal kick.

A similar second half

The similarities between the first and second half continued, as Toronto once again dominated from the opening stages of the half. Giovinco was weaving his way through the compact Sounders half, but the Atomic Ant could not produce any magic for the hosts.

Seattle were forced into a substitution up front 72 minutes in, when Valdez went down in the with a cramp injury, bringing his MLS Final to a saddening end as the 32-year-old striker was replaced by Andreas Ivanschitz.

The closing stages of the second half were a tense affair for both sets of fans. Seattle registered their first shots of the game through Osvaldo Alonso and Toronto still mounted their endless pressure on the visitors from the west.

Altidore had one final chance to win the cup for Toronto in the second minute of stoppage time, when the striker went diving in on a Michael Bradley corner, however Altidore missed the ball by an inch, sending the game to extra-time.

Extra-Time

Benoit Cheyrou came close to finding the back of the net in the opening five minutes of extra-time with two attempts from close range in quick succession, however the French playmaker had both his efforts denied by Frei with relative ease.

Greg Vanney made a bold and somewhat shocking decision in the 102nd minute, when the Toronto FC head coach substituted Giovinco off for Tosain Ricketts for his third and final substitute of the game, as the Italian attacker looked to have to picked up cramp during extra time.

Super Frei

Frei kept Seattle in the match yet again with an incredible save in the 18th minute of extra time. Ricketts crossed the ball into Altidore, and with the ball looping into the top corner, but the Swiss goalkeeper pulled off a fantastic save, to claw the ball away from goal, and away from danger.

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