Seattle Sounders FC had made it to their second consecutive MLS Cup but this final ended differently for them against the two-time hosts, Toronto FC. Head coach Brian Schmetzer shared his thoughts after the game.
Lost duels showed that Seattle were not up to the pace of the game in the first half
When quizzed about where he thought things had gone wrong in the first half, Schmetzer pointed to number of duels lost and won by the Sounders. The Sounders head coach noted that Toronto had won 33 duels to his own team's ten and it showed that the Sounders were not competitive enough during the first half. Schmezter went on to say that the Sounders "could not keep the ball in any part of the game" and that led to a loss of patience in the second half whenever Seattle could not regain possession. Schmezter was keen to point out that he believed the effort was there form his team but the soccer "wasn't their best soccer" on the day which was what he alluded to by pointing out the impatience on the ball during the second half.
Schmetzer noted that credit had to be given to Toronto FC for keeping the Sounders attack quiet. The attacking front of Will Bruin, Clint Dempsey, Nicolás Lodeiro and so forth only managed to get two shots on target which showed how effective Toronto were at shutting down the Sounders. Michael Bradley was someone that Schmetzer pointed out as a player's whose performance helped in cutting off supply to the likes of Bruin. The Sounders man referenced Bradley's goal-saving tackle against Columbus Crew SC in the previous round as an example of how good Bradley can be and that "it was not always the goal scorers who make a difference, it's some of the guys who do the work behind" and that was Bradley tonight.
Stefan Frei's performance was also brought up and Schmezter noted that he felt satisfied with his goalkeeper's game going into half-time as it gave his team time to make adjustments. Unfortunately for the Sounders, those adjustments did not work and as Schmezter himself pointed out "sometimes, if you have to rely on your goalkeeper for so many critical moments, one of them will eventually get through". That was what happened in the second half as Toronto found the back of the net twice to end Seattle's chances of winning a second MLS Cup.
The loss could prove to be motivation for the Sounders next year
"I will learn from this as a coach to see how I can figure things out" was how Brian Schmetzer felt that he could help his team move on from the loss in the future. In the locker room after the final whistle, Schmetzer told his team that Toronto had used their loss as motivation last year and that they should do the same in order to be in the final once again next season.
"We had the longest unbeaten streak and Stefan (Frei) broke a Sounders record with his 13 shutouts" was the answer Brian Schmezter gave when he was asked about the positives of the 2017 season. He also felt that the team should great resilience by overcoming a slow start and managing to reach a second consecutive MLS Cup final. He continued by saying "no disrespect to Portland and Columbus but it's very difficult to repeat and doing that makes me happy". Schmezter finished off by stating he was "awfully proud of his team" and congratulated Toronto FC and Greg Vanney on their performance tonight.