For the first time in club history, the Seattle Sounders are MLS Cup champions.
Despite being outplayed for the vast majority of the match not registering a single shot on goal, Seattle beat Toronto FC 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after playing a scoreless 120 minutes at frigid BMO Field.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei was the hero for Seattle, recording six saves in regular and extra time before making one stop in the shootout to help the Sounders to the title. Defender Roman Torres made the clinching penalty in the sixth round of the shootout, powering a left footed shot past Clint Irwin after Toronto defender Justin Morrow bounced his penalty off the crossbar.
The championship is the crowning achievement in Seattle’s proud MLS history. The Sounders, who joined the league in 2009 after decades in the lower levels of North American soccer, have made the playoffs in every year of their existence, won four US Open Cup titles since joining MLS and claimed the Supporters’ Shield in 2014, but had never made it to the title game prior to this year.
For a long while, it looked like Seattle wouldn’t even make the playoffs in 2016. The club got off to the worst start in their MLS history this year, going 6-12-2 in their first 20 matches to sink in the Western Conference playoff race. But the replacement of former head coach Sigi Schmid with Brian Schmetzer and the arrival of Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro in late July sparked a remarkable turnaround, with Seattle posting an 8-2-4 record in their final 14 matches to finish as the West’s No. 4 seed.
The Sounders remained hot in the playoffs, surviving Sporting Kansas City in the Knockout Round, topping FC Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals and dispatching the Colorado Rapids in the Western Conference Final to advance to MLS Cup.
They survived Toronto on Saturday, not allowing TFC – who had scored 17 goals in five playoff matches heading into MLS Cup – many clear cut chances and outlasting the Canadian club in the shootout to lift the Phillip F. Anschutz trophy for the first time.