2019 MLS Cup Player Ratings: Torres, Ruidiaz shine bright in Seattle Sounders win

It unfolded in a most unexpected manner, but the Seattle Sounders were eventually able to live up to their status as MLS Cup favorites in a 3-1 home victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

For nearly an hour, the hosts could barely get out of their end, couldn't hold onto the ball when they did and had absolutely no push on the right side of the pitch. The visitors happily carried play, but their timidity in the final third meant they would not profit from it.

The Sounders finally broke through with a solid advance down the left and a fortuitous double bank shot by Kelvin Leerdam, who had been missing in attack action up until that episode. Sub Victor Rodriguez then fired home a picturesque insurance tally with 14 minutes remaining and Raul Ruidiaz added another on the stroke of stoppage time, rendering Jozy Altidore's nifty late header as nothing more than scoreboard dressing.

Seattle Sounders

Stefan Frei (6.5) — No MVP performance was needed this time around, but Frei did come up with one solid save and a couple of strong punches.

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Kelvin Leerdam (7) — The Sounders right back was almost invisible in the first half, but he made a big difference after the break. The first time he was dangerous going forward, his shot pinballed home for the winner. After that Leerdam came up with some important defensive plays.

Kim Kee-hee (7) — The South Korean defender had a couple of nervy moments, but never folded. Kim was a clearance machine during the opening hour, when Seattle had their backs against the wall.

Roman Torres (7.5) — Like his partner, Torres was large and in charge when the Reds tried to breach the box. The big guy, clearly rejuvenated after beginning the season in Tacoma, led all players with 15 clearances.

Brad Smith (6.5) — For long stretches of the game, Smith was the only Sounder driving the team forward, just as he did on the opening goal.

Gustav Svensson (6.5) — Aside from a vital tackle in the area in the early going, the Seattle midfielder was a bit too easy to get past for about an hour. After the Sounders broke the ice, he turned into a human stop sign.  

Cristian Roldan (7) — It was a fine "little things" showing from Roldan, who was probably the home side's best passer in the opening frame. He may not have made a ton of defensive stops, but he picked the right times to intervene on Reds rushes.

Nicolas Lodeiro (7) — The Seattle skipper worked his tail off as usual, but like most of his teammates struggled to break forward for much of the day. What's more, his restart serves were definitely off. However, Lodeiro got his act together late. His excellent lead ball down the line keyed the winning goal and his touch between three Reds defenders for an assist on the second was pure class.

Jordan Morris (5) — The US international got his motor revved on a couple of early occasions, but very much faded offensively from there. To his credit, Morris did contribute defensively.

Joevin Jones (5) — While he made a few nice defensive plays, Jones was entirely ineffective on the ball for over an hour. After switching from the wing to left back, he did pitch in on the build-up to Leerdam's winner.

Raul Ruidiaz (7.5) — The diminutive striker was knocked around pretty good for most of the game, but was able to get loose for a good chance near the break. It was an omen, as Ruidiaz notched the assist on Leerdam's goal and netted the final tally himself, getting the final say against the away defense.

Coach Brian Schmetzer (7) — It was odd to see the Seattle operate as if they were still facing LAFC during a surprisingly weak first half. Schmetzer bet that the Reds would not be able to break through without Altidore, and as frustrating as it was for almost an hour, he was right. Bringing on Rodriguez tilted the game, and the hometown boy ended the day with his second MLS Cup celebration as Sounders head coach.

Subs:

Victor Rodriguez (8) — The Spaniard's inclusion gave Seattle wings, both literally and figuratively. They were able to break Toronto pressure more easily, and if that wasn't enough, Rodriguez netted a fantastic goal to put the game out of reach.

Jordy Delem (-) — The midfielder provided a little extra security in stoppage time.

Xavier Arreaga (-) — A mere cameo.

Toronto FC

Alejandro Pozuelo didn't quite provide the spark for TFC to win it. | USA Today Images

Quentin Westberg (5) — The Reds 'keeper made the best stop of the day to deny Ruidiaz on the edge of halftime, but was unable to stretch quite far enough to stop the Rodriguez strike. Even though it came when the game was all but decided, it must be said that his indecisiveness allowed Ruidiaz to seal the deal for Seattle.

Auro Jr. (4.5) — The Reds right back had so many chances to make something happen from threatening attack positions, but slow decisions and poor deliveries told the story of his day.

Omar Gonzalez (5.5) — For about 44 minutes, Gonzalez was fantastic. He pushed Ruidiaz around and pulled off a few big interceptions to halt dangerous Seattle counter moves. Just before intermission, he allowed the Sounders striker to wiggle past him for a dangerous shot on goal. It was a portent of things to come as his defensive stops dried up in the second half and he got worked by Rodriguez on the all-important second Seattle goal.

Chris Mavinga (5) — The other Reds center back continued making stops until the final whistle, but also made the bigger errors. We won't ding Mavinga much for the Westberg miscommunication on the final Sounders tally, but he couldn't keep Leerdam's winning shot from getting through and was slow to help on the Rodriguez strike.

Justin Morrow (3.5) — It was a consistently rough outing for the TFC left back, who was simply unable to add anything to their attack and authored several poor turnovers. There's no sense in docking Morrow for the deflection on Seattle's winner, but he definitely deserves a big demerit for sloppily keeping Leerdam onside in the first place.

Michael Bradley (6.5) — While he rarely had any great effect in the passing game, Bradley deserves credit for repeatedly dropping back to make a slew of key interventions in his own area.

Marky Delgado (7.5) — The Toronto FC midfielder was arguably the best player in the field in the first half. When he wasn't forcing Seattle turnovers with high pressure, he was ably prodding the visitors forward with smart touches. Delgado was a bit less influential after the interval, but shares little blame for the Reds collapse.

Jonathan Osorio (5) — The Canada midfielder had a few nice moments aiding Delgado in the midfield grunt work department, but was far less sharp with the ball at his feet. Osorio missed opportunities in attack and committed some very bad giveaways in his own end. He was also among the culpable on the first two goals.

Nicolas Benezet (5) — The winger drew one good save out of Frei, but was all hat and no cattle more often than not. Benezet did well enough to put himself in good positions, but didn't do enough with them.

Alejandro Pozuelo (6.5) — Despite his side's early dominance, Pozuelo was highly ineffective with the ball for the first half hour of the game. He certainly perked up from there, but couldn't make any magic until he set up Altidore's late consolation header.

Tsubasa Endoh (4.5) — The right-sider was barely noticeable for most of his 62 minutes on the field. Endoh was often timid when presented with a chance to cause trouble in the final third. 

Coach Greg Vanney (7.5) — It would be quite the stretch to pin this defeat on the boss, who somehow had his team in the driver seat for an hour without their main weapon on the pitch. And after the Reds fell behind due to individual mistakes, they went right back to leaning on Seattle. To steal from Robert Burns, sometimes the best-laid plans do go awry.  

Subs:

Nick DeLeon (6) — Try as he might, there would be no playoff magic from DeLeon on this day.

Jozy Altidore (7) — He didn't have all that many touches and was unable to unsettle the Sounders backline with his clearly limited running, but Altidore sure potted one helluva header to soften the scoreline.

Richie Laryea (5.5) — The right back sub entered with his side already down two, and didn't create much from a thankless position.

Series: 

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