SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win the 2019 MLS Cup final on Sunday, sending a sellout crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field into a frenzy. With second-half goals by Kelvin Leerdam, Víctor Rodríguez and Raúl Ruidíaz, Seattle won its second MLS championship and first at a final in front of its rabid home fans. Jozy Altidore scored a late goal for Toronto.
Here are three quick thoughts on the game:
Seattle won the rubber-match despite being dominated in possession
This was a better game than either of the previous two finals these same two teams played in 2016 and ’17, but the biggest surprise of Seattle-Toronto III was Seattle having only 35% of possession and looking to counter much more than anyone had expected coming into the game.
Toronto didn’t park the bus by any means and actually played the better soccer for much of the game. Alejandro Pozuelo was fantastic at times on the ball in the Seattle half, but Toronto never created enough truly dangerous chances despite all that possession and suffered for it. When it came down to it, Toronto also didn’t have anyone quite as good in the decisive moments as Seattle’s Nicolás Lodeiro, whose brilliant pass to Víctor Rodríguez set up the second Seattle goal—and the team’s second MLS Cup title in four years.
Michael Bradley played like a man with $6.5 million on the line
The fact of the matter is that Bradley plays like someone with his hair on fire all the time anyway (if he had hair), but with a Toronto win reportedly set to trigger an extra year of his contract at $6.5 million, Bradley was everywhere on Sunday. Has there ever been a bigger single-game win bonus in the history of the sport? Bradley orchestrated the Toronto build-up when TFC had the ball, and whenever Seattle had a counter it was Bradley who would race back and try to put out the fire.
Bradley’s range was incredible in this game, and you would have to think that even with the loss he’ll come back to Toronto next year and continue to play a major role—even if it’s at a lower salary number than it would have been with a victory in the final.
If we’re deciding to name eras, this may well be the Seattle Era in MLS
This was obviously the third Seattle-Toronto final in the last four years, and while Toronto’s 2017 team makes a great case as the best single-season team in MLS history, the best teams are the ones who can reign over a period of several seasons.
With its second win over Toronto in a final, Seattle now has a better claim to this era than TFC. What’s more, this Seattle run may not be over. Sounders pillars Lodeiro and Ruidíaz are nowhere near the end of the line, the roster put together by GM Garth Lagerwey is stacked, and now the Seattle homegrowns (which have been winning age-group titles for the last two years) could really start impacting the team starting next season.
If the Seattle championship era started in 2016, the end-date on this era has yet to be decided.