Last November, Seattle Sounders FC saw out 120 minutes of soccer against Toronto FC to reach a penalty shoot out and Román Torres converted the penalty that saw them lift the Audi 2016 MLS Cup. This time, Stefan Frei's heroics were not enough to prevent a determined Toronto side from accomplishing their season-long aim as goals by Jozy Altidore and Víctor Vázquez allowed the home team to lift the Audi 2017 MLS Cup for the first time in their history.
Frei keeps Toronto at bay during the first half
Toronto from almost the first whistle, were the team on top although Kelvin Leerdam's deflected cross forced Alex Bono into a first minute save. Drew Moor should have put Toronto ahead in the second minute when Chris Mavinga touched the ball on from a corner kick and the defender was found unmarked at the far post right in front of goal. Unfortunately for him and Toronto, he could not angle his header quickly enough and it went over the crossbar. Frei was then called upon to make his first of many saves of the night in the tenth minute. Altidore held up the ball well before laying it off to Jonathan Osorio who hit it first time on the volley, only for Frei to stretch and parry the ball away from goal. A minute later, Vázquez played a delicious ball through the Sounders back line and found Sebastian Giovinco all alone and through on goal. A combination of Frei and Chad Marshall managed to get a block on Giovinco's shot and the ball rolled agonizingly wide of the far post.
Frei was the man of the moment once again in the 23rd minute when he got a hand to Giovinco's effort that was headed towards the near corner. The Italian had almost fooled the Sounders goalkeeper with his effort but Frei adjusted quickly enough to make the save. Toronto kept coming and Frei had to have strong hands to keep Marco Delgado's 35th-minute long-range effort out of his net. The Sounders were barely hanging on and Frei was the only reason they had not conceded by that point. The Sounders midfield had all but disappeared throughout the game and it allowed Toronto to not only dictate the tempo but keep the likes of Will Bruin, Clint Dempsey and Nicolás Lodeiro anonymous the entire match. Toronto had more shot on goal through Vázquez in the 41st minute but even with a deflection, Frei was there to make a decent save and keep the score at 0-0.
Toronto find the breakthrough in the second half
The break did nothing for Brian Schmetzer's team as the second half followed the same pattern as the first half; Toronto FC on top and the Seattle Sounders struggling to keep up. Delgado managed to nip in and steal the ball from Joevin Jones in the 60th minute to try and swing the ball towards a waiting Altidore. The ball was headed away by Torres and Michael Bradley's effort from outside the box was pushed away by Frei. Delgado then skipped by a challenge in the 64th minute and found Altidore who then laid the ball off for his strike partner, Giovinco. Frei made another great stop to prevent Giovinco from opening the scoring but you knew that it was only a matter of time before the home side did just that.
While Giovinco was taking his shot, Torres had come in late on Altidore who then turned to the referee looking for a penalty due to the nature of Torres' challenge. Allen Chapman waived play on, much to the disgust of Altidore who then squared up to Torres. Altidore then made Torres and company pay in the 67th minute by finding the opening goal. Toronto FC countered quickly through Vázquez and Giovinco and the little Italian played a great ball that set Altidore through on goal. The US international rounded Frei and finished cleanly, much to the sheer delight of his fans and teammates.
Toronto then sought to see out the game, making defensive substitutions to counter Seattle's offensive ones and looking to slow down play whenever they could. The game did not see any goal-mouth action until stoppage time when Toronto found the second goal to put the nail in the coffin for the Sounders. Substitute Benoit Cheyrou made a great tackle in midfield that allowed Toronto to attack in transition. His tackle found Vázquez and Toronto were three against two. Giovinco got the ball and played another substitute, Armando Cooper into a one-on-one situation with Frei. The Panamanian rounded Frei but could only watch in disbelief as his shot cannoned off the near post. Luckily for Toronto, Víctor Vázquez had been following the play and he was on hand to knock in the rebound, sparking off even bigger celebrations inside BMO Field. It was no more than Toronto FC had deserved, not only for their play in the final but for their overall performance throughout the 2017 season. They proved tonight, that they truly were the best team in Major League Soccer as they hoisted their third, and most important, title in the air.