TORONTO – The Seattle Sounders won their first MLS Cup in team history, but they admittedly didn't do so with the most impressive of offensive displays.
In fact, they became the first MLS Cup finalist to fail to register a shot on target and their three total shots were the fewest in MLS Cup history. Despite that, they prevailed 5-4 in a penalty-kick shootout to win the league title on Saturday night at BMO Field.
From the start of the game it was clear that their gameplan revolved around establishing a strong defensive base, preferring not to press Toronto FC beyond the midfield line for much of the game. The Sounders' main attacking weapons, like Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Nelson Valdez, were unable to mount a serious attack and received little support.
"I would’ve wished – and I’m not criticizing the team – but I really wish we could’ve played a little bit better. I think there were key moments when we didn’t connect the simple pass or we tried to force the ball in and turned the ball over," said head coach Brian Schmetzer in the postgame press conference. "I don’t know if that was our best soccer game ... and at times you have to just say congratulations to Toronto because they made it very, very difficult for us. I think we were fortunate to get out of the game and get the game into penalty kicks."
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Morris, the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year, finished the game with no shots or chances created while Lodeiro had one of his worst games as a Sounder, with just one shot and no chances created. Midfielder Cristian Roldan did not mince words when discussing his team's performance.
"[Toronto FC] played really well, I thought they dominated us to be honest and for us to stick to our gameplan and to fight through everything, it’s just characteristic of our team that we have.”
This isn't the first time this season that Seattle have failed to register a shot on target, with the same occurrence happening on July 24 against Sporting Kansas City. That was the last game former head coach Sigi Schmid was in charge before being replaced by Schmetzer and it also was the last game that Lodeiro was not on the roster. Midfielder Brad Evans mentioned that game in his postgame remarks.
"You know what? We've done things the hard way this year," said Evans. "We go to Kansas City and get our butts kicked, and we squeak out with a dribbler of a shot or it would've been zero in that game, too. Somehow we've found a way to win games and hold it to zero. Saying that, we didn't create enough chances tonight, but we didn't give up too many quality chances at the back."