Seattle Sounders Win MLS Cup 2019 Behind Kelvin Leerdam Goal

kelvin leerdam
Kelvin Leerdam shoots and scores off a deflection from Justin Morrow to open the scoring in MLS Cup 2019. Photo of the courtesy of John A. Babiak/Last Word on Soccer.

SEATTLE, WA.Seattle Sounders FC hosted Toronto FC in MLS Cup on Sunday afternoon for the third time in four years. It was in many ways a similar affair to the first two installments, with Kelvin Leerdam and Justin Morrow providing a new wrinkle.

Rave Green Reigns: Seattle Win Second MLS Cup Off Kelvin Leerdam Goal

The plot of the first half surprised most. Toronto were the more dynamic side, having more of the ball and more time in the final third. They were very methodical in build up through the interchange in the 4-3-3.

The Sounders defended rather deep and played very direct when they won the ball in their own half. Seattle did have several good spells on consecutive corners. For both sides, most of their shots were off the mark or right at the opposing goalkeeper.

The first good chance of the game came in the 9th minute when Jordan Morris picked off a pass and went in alone to shoot but Quentin Westberg made the save.

Toronto’s best chance of the half came in the 36th minute when Nicolas Benezet cut inside and fired a low hard shot from the top of the box. Stefan Frei made a fantastic save. Raul Ruidiaz nearly scored on a counter attack at the end of the half off a great first touch to separate from Omar Gonzalez. The half ended 0-0.

Seattle was very defensive to start the second half but it ended up playing to their advantage. After a good sequence for Toronto, the Sounders found the opening goal in the 57th minute. Against the run of play, Kelvin Leerdam received a pass to the nearside of goal. He took a touch to set up his shot and fired across goal. The shot went off defender Justin Morrow for a goal. Despite looking like an own goal, it was credited to Leerdam.

Both sides made attacking substitutions as Jozy Altidore and Victor Rodriguez came in for their respective sides. The game became messy after that, with Toronto pushing for a goal and both sides getting physical.

Rodriguez found a moment of brilliance in the 76th minute. He took a pass from Nicolas Lodeiro and made a cut towards goal and bent the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.

Toronto was unable to mount a proper attempt and Raul Ruidiaz scored in garbage time on a long ball. The match ended 3-1 with Jozy Altidore scoring in extra time, with Seattle winning their second MLS Cup.

Keys to the Final:

Kelvin Leerdam ignites a bonfire: A Kelvin Leerdam goal against the run of play got the crowd and the home side back into this game. It ignited Seattle on the way to victory when they didn’t play well for 60 minutes.

Critical substitutions: Rodriguez scored a fantastic goal off the bench to give the Sounders a two goal lead. Greg Vanney’s side has had a history of super substitution performances. We might now find out till later how healthy Altidore was, but none of the three subs made a difference for the visitors.

Critical mistakes: Seattle bent defensively but did not break. While Toronto had several chances, they weren’t truly deadly other than the shot from Benezet and the goal from Altidore.

Pragmatism to get a result: An hour into this game it was looking unexciting and like Seattle was going to be outplayed for a third final in a row. And they were going to play for 0-0 and hope to win in PKs. It didn’t come to that, but ultimately Seattle’s game plan payed off. They defended well. They had a handful of chances to create quality and brilliance. They did so and deserved to win.

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