TORONTO – There is no good way to lose a final.
The first two shooters, Jozy Altidore and Brad Evans, converted theirs. The next two rounds saw each side miss one and make one – Michael Bradley and Alvaro Fernandez were unsuccessful, while Benoit Cheyrou and Andreas Ivanschitz scored. The next four, Will Johnson, Joevin Jones, Drew Moor, and Nicolas Lodeiro, all struck.
The five rounds ended with the sides level on four apiece; the shootout continued in sudden death.
Two kicks later, the Sounders were be the ones lifting the trophy at BMO Field, after Roman Torres buried his.
It is one thing to be held scoreless after regulation and extra time, only for shots from twelve paces to be the deciding factor. It was another level of frustration to lose to a team that had, infamously, not managed a single shot on goal throughout. Even more so after Altidore seemed to have won it in extra time, only for Stefan Frei to claw his header away from the goal-line.
It was a particularly cruel way to lose.
And so, with the two sides set to meet once more in the 2019 MLS Cup Final on Sunday, Nov. 10 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN, TVAS, TSN), that memory, put in the past by TFC’s 2017 cup win the Sounders, will doubtless be resurgent.
For most at least.
“Not for me,” said TFC defender Justin Morrow, who saw his penalty effort rattle off the underside of the bar before Torres won it. “There is a group of core players that were around for that and then there is a big group that weren’t. They don’t know anything about that, so it will be a fresh look going into this MLS Cup without all that history.”
“I try to bring them up to speed, tell them how competitive Seattle is – a bunch of fighters over there,” remarked Morrow. “They have quality, so they won’t give up easily.”
Every championship decider is a distinct and different affair.
“I don’t know if I feel a lot about 2016 other than it would be nice to go get the second championship,” said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney. “They got one and took it from us on our field, fair enough. Our mission is to go get one back.”
“It’s not a big talking point because there are different players in the locker room,” continued Vanney of internal discussions at TFC. “At this point you’re trying to win the championship. That’s the emphasis and the focus.”
Toronto did get their revenge after the 2016 disappointment, beating Seattle 2-0 in the 2017 final, exorcising that ghost immediately. And painful memories sting less with age.
But that harsh December day still rankles.
“We’ll remember that this week; some of us will remember that,” promised TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “The table is turned now – it’s over there. We’ll see, we’ll see. It’s funny how things work.”