MLS Cup Player Ratings: Defense dominates as Sounders triumph

There were plenty of good marks to go around after Seattle defeated Toronto FC on spot kicks to claim an MLS Cup final that was played at a high level.

While the host Reds carried play for much of the night, Seattle refused to break. Neither side made a fatal mistake over 120 scoreless minutes of play, leaving Seattle to come out on top after a see-saw shootout.

TORONTO FC

Clint Irwin (6) - The home 'keeper had next to nothing to do until penalties, when he comfortably stopped the one Seattle try he managed to reach. Irwin did take care when forced into one tricky bit of ballhandling.

Eriq Zavaleta (7.5) - The TFC right center back essentially marked Jordan Morris out of the game, crowding the youngster so much he was unable to get loose. Zavaleta made plays simply by eliminating the need for plays to be made. 

Drew Moor (7.5) - After struggling in the Montreal tie, Moor was nearly flawless in the title match. He piled up a game-high seven area clearances and about as many help plays at the gate to the home box. 

Nick Hagglund (7) - The left-sided defender had a rather quiet first half, but was quite busy making interventions after that. He chalked up eight of them in extra time, when Hagglund's best defensive stop came in the form of a clearance on a dangerous serve. 

Steven Beitashour (5) - On the plus side, Beitashour forced several turnovers near or across midfield. However, he didn't supply much else going forward and had a few especially sloppy episodes in defense.

Justin Morrow (5.5) - Until spot kicks, it was a rather solid outing for Morrow, who supplied a few dangerous crosses and kept Seattle from making much noise down his flank. And then, he unfortunately put his sudden death round penalty off the bar, leaving TFC open to heartbreak. Ouch.

Michael Bradley (7.5) - The Reds skipper was absolutely terrific over 120 minutes, ringing up an amazing 30 total defensive stops and 18 positive run of play passes into the final third. More than any other player on the field, he conrolled the traffic. Sadly, his last action was an especially terrible penalty try, which was easily stopped.

Armando Cooper (7) - Though his influence waned a bit in the second half, Cooper spent most of his 85 minutes eating up yardage on the ball and providing strong positional midfield play. 

Jonathan Osorio (7) - The Toronto Native was fairly quiet in the opening frame, but repeatedly halted Seattle from getting out of their end after the break. Osorio also linked well into attack, completing 24 of 25 passes across midfield.

Sebastian Giovinco (6.5) - The Toronto FC star got off to a good start, creating a couple of quick chances in the opening moments. Giovinco never stopped asking varied questions of Seattle's defense, but not enough of them were difficult. He also wasted a slew of first half restarts and failed to get any of his six shot attempts on goal. 

Jozy Altidore (7) - The US power forward was central to nearly all of the home side's dangerous advances. Altidore pitched in with hold-up plays, through ball leads, handy flick-ons and an early shot that deflected just wide. Late in the game, he was robbed of what looked like a sure winning header.

Coach Greg Vanney (6.5) - There's not a whole lot one could ding in the boss' game plan, which is what got them to the big dance and saw them post a 19-3 shot advantage on Saturday night.

Subs:

Will Johnson (6.5) - The local boy entered in the 77th minute and solidly did everything that was asked of him. Johnson helped Bradley run traffic and made six defensive plays in front of the home area.

Benoit Cheyrou (5.5) - The 85th-minute sub keyed a handful of decent rushes for TFC, but was also found lacking on a couple of potential advances. On one, Cheyrou spurned two chances to spring a two-on-one break near the end of regulation. 

Tosaint Ricketts (6.5) - Shortly after coming on near the end of the first overtime period, Ricketts spun a huge chance just wide of frame. After that miss, he was quite the pest, just as he had throughout the postseason.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS

Stefan Frei (8.5) - Without Frei's pair of massive late stops, Seattle are not champions right now. In the waning seconds of regulation, he punched a loose ball off the head of the lurking Altidore. In extras, he cruelly denied the Toronto FC forward again, reaching behind his body to claw a header out of the top corner in the nick of time. In all, he logged seven saves (with another in the shootout) and two punches to claim MVP honors against his former employers.

Tyrone Mears (7) - The Sounders right back had one late hiccup at the back, but he repeatedly slowed Giovinco advances down that side. Though he didn't offer much in the way of final balls, Mears also provided a lot of push down his flank after halftime.

Chad Marshall (7) - The veteran center back consistently put a body on Altidore to slow him down. Marshall often deferred to his partner in the first half, but ended up with eight clearances and three pass picks from stepping into lanes in front of the Seattle area.

Román Torres (8.5) - The Panama center back was monstrous in the opening period, when he notched 15 total defensive stops, including a dozen in or around the away box. Torres did get away with a couple of slip-ups in the second half, but finished up with 26 interventions. To top it all off, he coolly bagged the deciding spot kick.

Joevin Jones (7.5) - The Trinidad & Tobago international rang up 19 total defensive plays, including a game-best five tackles. Jones was also often a one-man pressure valve, but his outing lost a little luster due to some giveaways in the Seattle end.

Osvaldo Alonso (7) - For about 52 minutes, the Sounders captain was not altogether effective. His mistakes helped the Reds put together a good scoring chance on either side of the break. After that point, he halted nine TFC rushes ahead of the away area, piled up six area clearances and played a host of positive passes into attack.

Cristian Roldan (7.5) - The youngster continued a string of fine playoff performances with one of his best. Roldan was constantly breaking up rushes, and often followed that up by dribbling or passing forward to help the visitors catch a breath at the back.

Nicolás Lodeiro (7) - Anyone who tuned in to watch Lodeiro key the Seattle attack on dangerous rushes may have been somewhat disappointed. Nevertheless, he more than made up for it with gutsy defending and pressure valve work. Though probably not done a service by being forced to work wide the whole game, he matched Jones by performing five tackles. In the shootout, Lodeiro came through with a successful penalty Seattle had to have to extend it to the decisive sixth round of kicks.

Erik Friberg (5) - Though the No. 8 shirt made a pair of particularly helpful defensive stops, he needed to do much more to get his side out of their end. In 66 minutes, Friberg managed just two positive passes into the TFC half and none in the final third.

Jordan Morris (5) - Aside from a couple of bullish incidents, Morris was unable to put his mark on the game. In the rookie's defense, he was rarely put in a position to do so.

Nélson Valdez (6) - Like Morris, Valdez suffered from a lack of touches. Still, he did all he could to spur attack and get Seattle out of their end.

Coach Brian Schmetzer (6) - One could say that the Seattle head coach trusted his players to keep the game within reach; at the same time, you could as easily opine that Schmetzer played it far too safe and it nearly cost them the title. It was not his team's best display, key man Morris was stranded for most of the night and his changes had little effect, but they got away with it all to claim the crown.

Subs:

Álvaro Fernández (5) - The 66th minute sub put in a fairly vanilla field performance, and then temporarily put his side in trouble with a weak penalty try.

Andreas Ivanschitz (6.5) - The former Austria star was decent during open play, and then coolly converted his spot kick.

Brad Evans (6.5) - While his outing was basically a 12-minute cameo, Evans gets a passing grade for calmly burying his shootout attempt.