Sounders beat Toronto FC to win MLS Cup

Seattle Sounders celebrate after defeating Toronto FC, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in the MLS Cup championship soccer match in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
The Seattle Sounders celebrate after defeating Toronto FC in the MLS Cup championship in Seattle.

SEATTLE — Kelvin Leerdam scored his first career postseason goal on a deflected shot in the 57th minute, substitute Victor Rodriguez connected in the 76th, and Raul Ruidiaz added the capper in the 90th to give the Seattle Sounders a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday in the MLS Cup for their second title in four seasons.

Playing before the second-largest crowd for an MLS Cup final, the Sounders withstood a nervy first 45 minutes before capitalizing on their opportunities in the second half.

‘‘The players and the fans deserve this,’’ Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. ‘‘The players persevered because again it was a first half we needed to make some adjustments and they never quit. And the fans never stopped believing. I’m very happy and proud for the city and the fans.’’


Leerdam scored Seattle’s first goal of this season back in March and claimed the winner when what looked to be a cross deflected off the shin of Toronto’s Justin Morrow and past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. Leerdam’s goal was the release Seattle needed. Rodriguez’s goal started with Gustav Svensson’s pass to Nicolas Lodeiro that left perfectly for Rodriguez near the top of the penalty area. He took a couple of touches to find space and Westberg couldn’t get his hand on the shot to the far post.

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Ruidiaz’s capper was one more moment to celebrate for the 69,274 in attendance, beating Chris Mavinga to a clearance and scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs.

‘‘I got a little teary-eyed, not so much for winning the trophy but winning it at home with our fans and having that positivity and joyous moments that you can share with everybody,’’ Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said.

Jozy Altidore, who hadn’t played in more than a month and came on as a substitute midway through the second half, pulled one back for Toronto in the third minute of stoppage time.

Seattle became the sixth franchise in league history with multiple titles.


The Sounders joined Houston, Sporting Kansas City, and San Jose with two titles. The LA Galaxy have five, and D.C. United four.

Meeting for the third time in the past four years in the final, the third chapter was among the most anticipated matches in league history. Seattle helped change the scope of the league when it arrived 10 years ago and relished the opportunity to host the final for the first time with the home team playing.

For the fans that showed up, it was an uneasy first 50-plus minutes. Toronto dominated possession. They connected their passes more often. They seemed comfortable in the setting, while Seattle seemed uneasy.

It was one momentary breakdown by Toronto and a bit of luck that allowed Seattle to take the lead.

Ruidiaz found enough space at the top of the penalty area to send a diagonal pass to Leerdam. He was initially challenged by Nicolas Benezet, but was able to break free. His ball into the middle of the goal mouth appeared more like a cross than a shot, but it didn’t matter when it caught the left shin of Morrow and went past a helpless Westberg.


Seattle’s record crowd erupted after nearly an hour of nervous energy building. It was Seattle’s first goal in a final in 267 minutes after being held scoreless in each of the two finals played in Toronto. For Morrow it was another forgettable moment in a final after he missed during the sixth round of the penalty shootout in the 2016 final with his shot clanging off the crossbar.

Rodriguez’s goal provided a cushion and Ruidiaz’s set off the wild celebration.