Seattle Sounders stun Los Angeles FC in California; heading to third MLS Cup Final

Seattle Sounders
The Seattle Sounders FC starting lineup poses for a photo before taking on Los Angeles FC on Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders.

Los Angeles, California — To build dominance as a club, you need to have consistency in your performances. The Seattle Sounders have done just that in their years in MLS. Ever since their first season in 2009, the Sounders have punched their ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Now, under head coach Brian Schmetzer, the Sounders are heading to their third final in four years. The Sounders reached the conference semifinals last year, but watched Portland celebrate on their home pitch in Seattle. Now, the Sounders celebrated and lifted the Western Conference trophy in LAFC territory.

Clearly the underdogs, the Sounders propelled through all the noise to keep LAFC at bay. An early goal from Eduard Atuesta gave the home side the lead. However, only five minutes later, Peruvian striker Raúl Ruidíaz gave the Sounders the equalizing goal.

Four minutes later, Nicolás Lodeiro scored on a rocket shot to give Seattle the lead. They entered halftime with that lead and came out in the second half looking more defensive. However, the attack did not end for Seattle. Instead, Ruidíaz came up big when he needed to, scoring the game-winning goal in 64th minute.

After the match, Ruidíaz said, he was extremely excited to score.

“I just saw myself being humbled and hard work on the field,” Ruidíaz said. “I’m very happy, but we have to keep our feet on the ground. We have one more step; we still have to win the final.”

Seattle was able to keep MLS MVP candidate Carlos Vela silenced throughout 90 minutes. Vela took only one shot on goal the entire night. In goal for Seattle, Stefan Frei made three saves against Vela, Eddie Segura and Brian Rodríguez.

Four Takeaways

  • In all fairness, it’s a handball: There were two situations that referee Jair Marrufo waved off and said play on. However, it would have been harsh to call a second-half foul against Kim Kee-hee for a handball. On the other hand, Xavier Arreaga’s handball should have been called. But, fouls were missed all over the pitch. The referee also ignored Adama Diomande putting an elbow to the neck of Arreaga. The officiating needs to be better in MLS.
  • The unsung hero: Gustav Svensson isn’t a name you hear much on the MLS broadcast. He’s a player that prefers to produce with his play and not his name. Svensson scored the opening goal last week for Seattle and was consistent in the midfield. He and Cristian Roldan paired together are a dynamic duo.
  • Can someone get this guy a goal? Brad Smith has an engine like no other. Even after running up and down the flanks the entire night, Smith turned the engine on full blast to chase down a one-on-one ball. He beat out Vela, but shouldn’t have taken the shot. In the middle of the box, Nouhou — of all people — was wide open. If the ball was slotted to the Cameroonian defender, Seattle could’ve had four goals.
  • Schmetzer deserves credit: Usually, we stick to three takeaways, but Schmetzer deserves a spot and some glory. Going up against Bob Bradley is no easy task. Coaching against Bradley in the Banc of California Stadium is even tougher. But, Schmetzer was up to the task, as he thrives in big moments. Seattle had a game plan and stuck to it, proving dominant throughout the whole night. Schmetzer and his staff deserve a lot of credit for getting their team prepared.

What’s Next?

Seattle will eagerly await tonight’s result against Toronto FC and Atlanta United. If Toronto wins, it’ll be a familiar story from 2016 and 2017. In both seasons, Seattle and Toronto made the MLS Cup Final, splitting the wins. A tiebreaker match could be a dream for fans of both teams.

However, Atlanta, who had a rough start early in the season under Frank de Boer, is looking to make it to their second-consecutive MLS Cup Final. Right now, Atlanta is on the same track as Seattle; they’ve made the playoffs every year they’ve been in the league.

Either way, one of those teams will have to face the daunting, veteran Sounders. MLS Cup will air on ABC on Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. EST.

PHOTO: The Seattle Sounders FC starting lineup poses for a photo before taking on Los Angeles FC on Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders.

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