TORONTO – For 120 minutes on a bitterly cold December night at BMO Field, with Major League Soccer’s ultimate prize on the line, the Seattle Sounders failed to register a single shot on goal.
Not a lucky bounce, random deflection or no-prayer-in-hell heat check from the shores of Lake Ontario. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
After 120 minutes and 12 penalty kicks on a bitterly cold December night at BMO Field, the Seattle Sounders stormed the field and lifted the MLS Cup under a shower of confetti, breaking Toronto FC hearts and prompting the most predictable of reactions.
You won’t like me for saying this, Reds fans, but Toronto FC didn’t deserve to win MLS Cup. Scoring chances aren't the same thing as goals. Sebastian Giovinco wasn't anywhere close to his game-changing self. Michael Bradley played perhaps the best game of his MLS career, but his PK attempt in the shootout was poor and Justin Morrow's cruelly hit the crossbar.
You won’t like me for saying this, Sounders fans, but Seattle didn’t deserve to win MLS Cup, either. Your attacking talismans, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, were basically non-factors. You were fortunate Toronto were uncharacteristically profligate in front of goal. Stefan Frei reached behind his back to bail you out in extra time.
Somebody's got to win, though, and deserving has nothing to do with it.
History doesn't care about the D-word, and you better believe the Sounders and their fans don't give a damn either. That's the difference between champions and everyone else. Champions have the cup, the rings, the victory parade and the legacy, and no amount of complaining is going to take it away from them.
Do you think MLS original Ozzie Alonso, who took a needle to his injured left knee no less than eight times on Saturday to stay on the field, cared who deserved to win after he became the first-ever Sounders captain to hoist the trophy that's inspired full-on obsession over the last eight years?
Do you think Brian Schmetzer, a man who played for the club in NASL, coached the Sounders to two USL titles and bleeds rave green and blue, cared who deserved to win as he sipped a beer and watched his players spray each other with champagne in the visiting locker room?
Do you think Morris, now a bona fide Seattle sporting legend, cared who deserved to win after he capped his rookie season by posing for pictures with his mother and father, the team doctor who watches his son from the end of the bench every week? Or when he grabbed his best friend, Cristian Roldan, to raise the trophy in the direction of the delirious Sounders' traveling support?
Do you think Roldan, still dragging one bum leg around after a gutty performance helped his adopted city capture its first-ever MLS Cup, cared who deserved to win after he found his mother during the celebrations and collapsed to the field in an emotional embrace?
Do you think Zach Scott, Mr. Sounder as he's affectionately known, cared who deserved to win as he gathered his family around him to soak in the triumphant atmosphere that will be the final memory of his playing career? How about fellow Sounders original Brad Evans?
Do you think Roman Torres, the giant of a central defender who helped shut down the Toronto attack and converted the winning penalty kick, cared who deserved to win when he cleared out some space to dance with the fans who'd rushed down to the field after the final whistle?
Do you think general manager Garth Lagerwey cared? Or Sounders owners Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth, Paul Allen and Drew Carey? How about the fans who traveled thousands of miles to support their boys on short notice? Or the many thousands more who watched from home and will pack downtown Seattle on Tuesday for a victory parade?
They didn't and they don't have to. Never will. That's for Toronto FC to worry about. That's for us to debate.
The facts are clear. There will be no asterisk next to the 2016 MLS Cup in the record books. The Seattle Sounders are MLS Cup champions, and deserving has nothing to do with it.