Sounders credit grit, formation and "special" Bwana for unlikely TFC win

TORONTO – Against the odds, and the run of play, Seattle Sounders FC came into BMO Field on Wednesday night and earned a massive three road points with a 2-1 win over Toronto FC.

Without the services of Clint Dempsey, Ozzie Alonso and Nicolas Lodeiro, to name but a few of those left at home, the Sounders leaned on a new look and supreme efficiency to pull out the result.

“The boys put it in tonight,” said head coach Brian Schmetzer. “They worked, they ran, they covered a lot of ground. They had to because Toronto was good at what they do. But [we] stuck to the game plan [and the] scoreline was in our favor.”

Schmetzer explained his decision to go with a 5-4-1 formation as a product of preseason.

“We were toying with a secondary formation we could use in situations like this,” he said. “That was when we had Jordan Morris, wanted to play with two forwards, had a good result against Portland.

“Then Jordan goes down [with a season-ending knee injury]. We had to change that up a little bit. Will [Bruin] is a classic lone striker for a situation like this; we have a good crop of center backs. That formation works for us.”

Bruin scored the first goal on a quick counter in the 25th minute, collecting a pass from Magnus Wolff Eikrem before blasting a left-footer past Alex Bono. It was Seattle's first shot on goal.

“It's tough to defend for 90 minutes,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. “Once you can get that lead, it's much nicer. Will was massive in that way, he took his first chance and scored.”

Jonathan Osorio would level before halftime, but 18-year old Homegrown rookie Handwalla Bwana would rise to the occasion come the 54th minute, latching onto a Bruin through ball to score the game-winner.

“He was great: came on, scored his first professional goal,” said Schmetzer. “I'm very proud of him. He finished that one well.

“He had a really good performance against Chivas [in Concacaf Champions League] at home when we beat them 1-0, then he tailed off a little bit. He had to regroup, catch his bearing,” explained Schmetzer. “You can tell he has quality, he just needs to understand MLS is a durable league. You've got to be a little stronger, a little tougher at times. He has the technical ability; he belongs in this league.”

Added Roldan: “Bwana was special. He adds that bit of brilliance at times. He's still young and can learn, but he was effective tonight. He came ready to play.”

For his part, the rookie credited the pass from Bruin.

“The ball from Will; perfect ball, all I had to do was finish it,” said Bwana. “I had a good finishing session the day before, so I was feeling it.

“Unbelievable moment. A kid's dream: to score your first professional goal,” he continued. “But I couldn't do it without my teammates, the most important thing is getting the three points.”

The congratulatory phone calls and texts, however, will have to wait until they're back across the border.

“I don't get service in Canada,” said Bwana. “I left my phone in the hotel, so maybe once we get to the US.”

The win comes at an excellent time for Seattle, who have struggled to find their footing in the league after their CCL exertions.

“This club is a proud club,” said Schmetzer. “We always fight, we never give up. Results like this come from that mentality, that mindset. That will always be there.”

With a Cascadia Cup clash against their rivals the Portland Timbers on Sunday (4 pm ET | ESPN - Full TV & streaming info), they will look to carry that moment into the derby.

“It's fantastic,” said Roldan of the boost from Wednesday’s result. “We're playing one of the best teams in the history of MLS, with the lineup that came out: a dedicated group that was committed to getting the result from the first minute. It plays into our next game, against another big team, a rival. We've got to rest our bodies and build off this win.”