Sports

Championsin a marathon

The Seattle Sounders finally did it.

After playing a solid defensive game, the Seattle Sounders showed they could score when it counted Saturday to win their first MLS Cup on penalty kicks (5-4) over Toronto FC at BMO Field.

Roman Torres scored the decisive penalty kick after Toronto’s Justin Morrow hit his shot off the crossbar.

It ended a game in which the teams did not score in 120 minutes, including 30 minutes of extra time.

During the 120 minutes, the Sounders did not force one save from Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin. The zero shots on goal was a first for an MLS Cup.

Toronto had 19 shots, seven on target and Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei was named the game’s MVP.

“We just couldn’t score on our chances,” Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney said.

Frei’s biggest save came on a header by Jozy Altidore.

“I thought the balls had eyes for that corner,” Vanney said. “It seems like he pulled the ball from behind him. It was one of the great saves I’ve seen. He won the game for them. He was the MVP of the game.”

Each goalkeeper, Toronto’s Clint Irwin and Frei, made a save during the penalty kick phase.

Toronto was the more aggressive team from the start.

The game was just completing its second minute when a shot by Altidore rolled just wide of the right post.

There were some hard fouls by both sides in the early going. Seattle began to get the better of the play before Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio tested Frei with a shot to the lower right corner.

Sounders center back Torres was felled by ball shot by Sebastian Giovinco in the 25th minute. He went down, but resumed playing after taking some treatment.

Frei again was tested by Altidore in the 30th minute.

Seattle defender Chad Marshall picked up a yellow card during the three minutes of added time in the first half for his tackle on Altidore.

Toronto took seven shots, three on target in the first half.

Giovinco nearly broke through in the second half when he blasted a shot just wide of the right post.

Joevin Jones picked up Seattle’s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Toronto was pressing the issue but unable to penetrate Seattle’s defense.

Altidore came close in added time in the second half but could not connect as Frei went down, shaken up on the play.

Bradley picked up Toronto’s first yellow card just before the second half ended.

Late-game substitution Will Johnson had the first shot of the 30-minute extra time but Frei stretched out and nabbed it.

Toronto substituted Tosaint Ricketts in the 12th minute of extra time, replacing Giovinco. Vanney said Giovinco was spent and needed to be replaced.

After Seattle threatened in the opening minute of the second segment of extra time, Ricketts sent a shot just wide in the 18th minute. Soon after, Frei just got his hand to defelect Altidore’s header on a cross from Ricketts, a game-saving stop.

Ricketts again threatened in the 29th minute of extra time but Frei had the play covered.

Irwin was able to cover up for a mistake in front of goal by Steven Beitashour.

After a July 9 loss to the L.A. Galaxy, the Sounders had a 5-10-2 record, a .352 winning percentage. It was the second worst midseason record for a team that reached the MLS Cup.

The worst midseason record for a team that reached the MLS Cup final was in 2002 by the New England Revolution, which was 4-9-1 through 14 games of a 28-game schedule on June 29, a .321 winning percentage.

That year, the Revolutions was 7-12-1 through 20 games;

Sounders FC stood at 6-12-2 at the 20-game mark this season.

One cold night

The temperature at kickoff was 28 degrees, making it the second-coldest MLS Cup on record. That honor goes to the 2013 edition at Sporting Park in Kansas City, where the game kicked off at 22 degrees.

ONE HOT TICKET

While the remaining tickets for Saturday’s final sold out in three minutes after going on sale to the general public last Monday, there were still 90 or so tickets available on StubHub 10 minutes prior to kickoff. Prices ranged from $147 up to $2,500 for a ticket that retailed between $55 and $555 at face value.

THE POWER OF CHANGE

Seattle’s Brian Schmetzer became the first coach in MLS history to take charge of a team midway through the season and lead it to a championship. Sigi Schmid (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Steve Nicol (New England Revolution) took their teams to the title match, but both came up short.

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