Sounders' Gustav Svensson helps Sweden advance to 2018 World Cup

Gustav Svensson - Seattle Sounders - shakes hands with Gigi Buffon after World Cup qualifying

Gustav Svensson still has the challenge of helping Seattle repeat as MLS Cup champions ahead, but the Sounders' Swedish midfielder/defender has already reached one major goal this year.

With Svensson coming off the bench for a second straight match in a two-legged UEFA playoff with Italy, Sweden held the Azzurri to a scoreless draw at the San Siro in Milan on Monday to advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia on a 1-0 aggregate and keep Italy – a four-time World Cup champion – home from the tournament for the first time in six decades.

Svensson, who came on late in the second half of the Swedes' 1-0 victory in the first leg in Stockholm last week, was pressed into service in the 19th minute on Monday when Jakob Johansson – who scored the winning goal in the first leg – went down with a left knee injury in the 17th.

Now, Svensson will have a little over a week to recuperate and get ready for the next challenge. Seattle next play November 21 in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, facing the Houston Dynamo in Houston in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship (9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN1/3, TVAS in Canada).