Seattle Sounders Win 2019 MLS Cup Final, 3-1 Over Toronto

Seattle Sounders FC won the second championship in the club’s Major League Soccer history, defeating Toronto FC 3-1 in 2019 MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon.

Victor Rodríguez was named MLS Cup MVP after netting the second Sounders FC goal, after coming into the match as a substitute. Kelvin Leerdam and Raúl Ruidíaz also scored goals for Sounders FC.

The game drew a crowd of 69,274, the largest crowd for a sporting event in the history of CenturyLink Field.


Seattle Sounders FC 3 (Leerdam 57; Rodríguez 76; Ruidíaz 90)
Toronto FC 1 (Altidore 93+)

Att: 69,274

Seattle Sounders FC won MLS Cup for the second time in club history, their second triumph in the last four seasons, after also defeating Toronto FC in 2016. Sounders FC have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of the club’s 11 seasons in MLS, the longest postseason streak in league history, the third-longest ever among the major North American sports leagues.

Victor Rodríguez was named MLS Cup Most Valuable Player, scoring the second goal of the match. Rodríguez was the third player to win MLS Cup MVP honors after coming on as a substitute (Guillermo Ramírez, LA, 2005; Dwayne De Rosario, SJ. 2001).

The attendance for 2019 MLS Cup was 69,274. It was the largest crowd for a sporting event in the history of CenturyLink Field, and the largest crowd for a soccer match in the history of Washington state. The crowd was the second-largest ever in MLS Cup history.

Sounders FC scored their first goal in three appearances in MLS Cup with the Kelvin Leerdam goal. Toronto FC conceded a goal for the first time in an MLS Cup, ending their shutout streak at 266 minutes in the title game, the second-longest in MLS Cup history (LA Galaxy, 297 minutes, 2002-2005-2009).

Gustav Svensson recorded two assists, one shy of the single-game record in MLS Cup. He is the fifth player in MLS Cup history to have two or more assists in a single final, the most since Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew SC) had a record three assists in MLS Cup 2008.

Jozy Altidore scored the Toronto FC goal, his second MLS Cup goal (in three appearances in the final). Altidore’s two goals in MLS Cup Finals are tied for second-most all-time (with six other players; Landon Donovan has five). Altidore now has six shots on goal in MLS Cup Finals, tied for third-most all-time
Omar Gonzalez of Toronto FC played in his fifth MLS Cup, tied for the third-most in MLS history, joining seven other players in having played in that many championship games.

Sounders FC became the first team in MLS Cup history to lead a match by three goals, with the 3-0 lead in the 90th minute. They became the fourth team in MLS Cup to score three unanswered goals (DC 1996; DC 2003; LA 2012).

The four goals combined in the second half equaled the most in a single half in MLS Cup, achieved twice earlier (SJ-CHI, 2nd half, 2003; DC-KC, 1st half, 2004).

Sounders FC had eight corner kicks in the first half of 2019 MLS Cup, the most by a team in a single half in MLS Cup history.
The Toronto FC goal was the first scored by the away team in 472 minutes, since the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup 2015 (Rodney Wallace, 7’).

Sounders FC won their 12th consecutive game in the MLS Cup Playoffs, equaling the all-time MLS record set by D.C. United from 1996-98. It was a 13th consecutive home game in the playoffs without a loss, setting the all-time MLS record.

Raúl Ruidíaz became the first player born in Peru to win MLS Cup. Brad Smith became the first player born in Australia to win MLS Cup. Xavier Arreaga became the first player born in Ecuador to win MLS Cup.

Kim Kee-Hee became the first player born in South Korea to win MLS Cup. Kelvin Leerdam became the first player born in Suriname to win MLS Cup. Jordy Delem became the first player born in Martinque to win MLS Cup.


On the game and the day:
“It’s important to me because you know, as I was sitting in my hotel room this morning, collecting my thoughts, obviously it was a big game, it was a massive, massive game, and I jotted down some notes because sometimes I forget things, and it’s two sides of the paper. So there’s this side, and then there’s this side, and one I’m going to read right now, but the flip side would have been the one had we not won the game. And that is testament to Greg Vanney and the Toronto organization because those guys had a really good season, they had a good game plan, and I congratulate Greg and his organization for getting to three finals in four years, and I was prepared.

“Now, I’m going to read my little opening statement: First of all, I just want to say that we don’t, our team, our club, we don’t operate in the realm of fear, we don’t do that, we address problems, we overcome, we try and be better at everything that we do and I think we respect our opponents, but we don’t have any fear. I think that the organization from top to bottom and I’m going to thank Adrian [Hanauer] I know he walked into the room with me, I want to thank him for giving me a chance a lot of years ago. Joe Roth, the new owners, Russel, Ciara, Macklemore, Terry, a bunch of Microsoft people, I mean what a great way to start their ownership tenure at the club. I want to thank all of the staff down at Starfire, and that includes my coaches. I mean Preki has been MLS coach of the year, Gonzo and Djimi are super talented coaches, Tommy, my best friend, Chris, Paul, Jake, Hilary, equipment guys, fitness guys, sports science, everybody, everybody did a great job to help us persevere. Garth and Chris, congratulations to them and thank them for the hard work to make this club successful, we couldn’t do it without them. You know family, this was what we all had (referencing T-shirt) when we got the new ownership group. My family was there tonight, my two grandbabies were there, baby Scotty, and baby Uma, my wife, my six kids, I love you all. My mom’s watching I’m sure. And most importantly, the players and the fans deserve this. The players persevered because again it was the first half that you know we needed to make some adjustments, and they never quit, and the fans never stopped believing. So I’m very very happy and proud for the city and the fans. So help me out here.”

On the performance of the central defense:
“I am blessed to have you know, people like Roman (Torres), Kim (Kee-Hee), Chad (Marshall) for a quarter of the year, and Xavier (Arreaga), Gustav (Svensson) a little spell back there as well. I’m blessed to have some talented centerbacks. Today when Pozuelo was on, obviously we wanted to shuttle the ball out wide, you know the aerial crosses we would have been able to deal with, but certainly over the course of the entire year, you know that’s been a strong point for us in the makeup of our franchise.”

On the impact of former coaches and former players at training:
“I think some of them were too young, or weren’t even born yet when Alan [Hinton] and Jimmy Gabriel, and Dave Geld, some of those guys were playing at Memorial Stadium. But certainly, it was a show of support – ‘ah Alan Hinton did that.’ It was a show of support for me, the coaching staff, and I thought it was a very very nice gesture to have some of the old Sounders there, and you know, Brad was there, Chad was there, we had some other people come in so it was really a nice gesture.”

On how they were able to neutralize the Toronto attack:
“We didn’t in the first half. We defend in a little bit of a pentagon shape, you know the two holders, you know we wanted Joevin and Jordy to pinch in, and Nico staying with Michael, but they were a very active midfield, I mean they were running guys in and out, Pozuelo was dropping really deep or out in the wing channels. Their two wide guys were coming inside, it really presented some problems for us so we tried to make some adjustments in the second half by just switching Jordan and Joevin, but then trying to step higher up the field to see if we couldn’t engage them before they had the ball in our half of the field, so it was challenging. But you know I think in the second half, especially after Kelvin scored that goal, I think we were able to figure it out.”

On the goal before he subbed on:
“It was amazing. I think the first half was hard for us because Toronto played very well. I think in the second half, we tried a little more of our soccer, our football. We kept a little more of the possession. This was, for me, key for the game. I am proud of my teammates. I think we deserve that. I’m very happy.”

On coming back from injuries to score in the final:
“I am so happy for that. I deserve that because I work a lot every single day for this moment. You say it was a hard season for me, especially this year, with a lot of injuries. I am always trying to work more to not have that, but that’s life sometimes. These things happen. But I am enjoying this moment a lot because I know I deserve that. I told my teammates I am proud for them, all the hard work in every single training. I am really happy for them, for the goal, for the victory, for this MLS Cup. I know we deserve that.”

On being a bench player in the playoffs:
“I think the coach has to make decisions. With my injuries in the season, maybe he doesn’t think I am ready for 90 minutes. If the team is winning, it’s normal. He has to keep this. I think I did well when I come on to the field. I’m always a player that wants to play all the minutes possible. For my situation, for my family, it was a little bit hard, but I am so happy for today, for the MLS Cup, for the MVP, and I am proud for all my teammates because they helped me a lot in the hard moments. We have to enjoy this moment because the champagne is here. It’s an amazing feeling.”

On the energy of the crowd:
“I mean, for me personally, it was difficult to prepare for this game. There was a lot of added pressure because I wanted it so bad for our fans so we can be the first ones in history at home. But you can also be the only team that loses at home for the first time. It’s a pressure because you want it so so so bad. Since the beginning, it was overwhelming. I got teary eyes when I walked out. As soon as the referee blows that whistle, things darken and you focus on the ball. When we scored the goal, it’s raw, pure emotion of celebrating what just happened and it makes you think you’re that much closer to what you want to do. When you get to do that three times, to celebrate, it was tremendous.”

On if Sounders FC should be getting more attention:
“I think this is why our fans are so important to us. They are part of our DNA. You work hard, you put in that sweat, effort, tears, the money, and everything the fans put in home and away, it is part of the DNA we have as players too. We try our best until the very, very end. Sometimes things don’t look pretty. Sometimes things don’t go our way. But we never give up. Today was a day we didn’t play our best game, but we fought and we kept going. Yes, maybe we didn’t have a season like LAFC, but honestly in the end, I could care less how pretty we play. [Forget] possession and all those other stats. In the end we got another star and that’s what matters.”

On winning the match:
“It feels amazing. The fans deserve it, we’re really happy. It was a pretty special atmosphere today. I said it before the game, whoever scored the first goal was going to be a game changer. When Kelvin scored a great goal, it definitely changed the game. It gave us confidence and the fans got in the game.”

On if Sounders FC get enough attention:
“We don’t listen to that too much. We just come out and play our game. I think some people didn’t think we’d be here at the beginning of the playoffs and the last couple of games, we just wanted to prove that we deserve to be here.”

On experiencing the atmosphere and the moment in Sounders FC’s history:
“Yeah, of course, walking onto the field I got a little emotional seeing the fans. My family was there, it was a special moment.”

On Toronto having so much possession:
“It wasn’t our plan. The whole playoffs I feel like we were down possession, and we played three games at home. That’s unlike Seattle, right? The fact of the matter is we won those games. We found ways to win and I think that’s what makes this team so special. We played in many different ways throughout the year and in the postseason. That’s an example of why this team is so special.”

On the feelings and memories of the day:
“I remember lifting that trophy up with Jordan Morris. That’s something he deserved more than anybody after the year that he had last year. After his first year where he won a trophy, I mean this guy has been to three finals in three years. You scratch that ACL year and he’s been to three finals in three years. Without him, we probably wouldn’t be here. Credit to him, I am so proud of him.”

On Sounders FC capping off their first decade with a title win:
“It’s important that we not only go for MLS Cup trophies, but Supporters’ Shield and Open Cup, and in the past we have been a club that has won those types of trophies, and it’s time we get back to it. Obviously winning MLS Cup is nice, but it’s time to put Seattle up there with the great teams. We need to do that by winning Supporters’ Shield next year and getting back to the final again.

On the level of frustration after a solid first half:
“I’ll start off by congratulating the Sounders, Brian Schmetzer, his staff and his team. At the end of the day, you have to win the game and they won the game. As for your question, yeah, it was frustrating. I thought we were fluid and generally good organization. I thought they didn’t have a great answer for some of our movement and some of the ball circulation. We got into a couple of good spots to have looks at goals, but probably not enough in the grand scheme of things. In all of the circulation, I thought too many times when we got into that very final action we slowed down just a little bit and that allowed them to get numbers back in front of the goal. Guys were in position to block things and cut off crosses. In general, I thought we played well. We minimized the amount of counterattacks, especially in the first half. In the second half, I thought we were turning the ball over too much. The ball movement slowed down by too many touches by players trying to make something out of nothing instead of letting the ball do the work. It got bogged down, and when it gets bogged down against a team that wants to play in transition you’re in trouble. And when it gets bogged down when the game is physical you’re also in trouble because it kind of plays into the hands of the defending team a lot of times because a little bit of contact turns into a transition. It goes the other way and you find yourself in trouble. For me, that was the run of it. By and large, they executed when they got their chances and that was the difference.”

On things taking a turn after Seattle’s first goal:
“I think there was a boost (for Seattle) from that and there was a tendency from our group to try to do too much with players. There was too much spinning around in the midfield on the ball and not enough ball circulation. I thought the first half, the difference was they could never catch up to the ball so we kept moving the ball to the next open player and they couldn’t get close. I thought as the game progressed it was too much time dwelling on the ball which led to time being lost all over the field, which then led to turnovers and transition. Then the momentum shifted and we were trying to battle it back.”

On the game plan for today’s match:
“Our game plan was what we do all the time and sometimes we throw in different nuances. Right now we had a different nuance because we had (Alejandro) Pozuelo as a false 9 versus Jozy (Altidore) as a traditional 9. There were overloads in different areas of the field and we tried to work the ball quickly from one side to the other and take advantage of the numbers once you get to the weak side. Like I said, by and large, we were rolling pretty good and then as the ball stopped moving we started to become more susceptible and less in rhythm. The timing of things started to break down and when you do that transitions happen between the lines and now you’re vulnerable for counterattacks. Defensively we had different ways that we wanted to step out and I thought we were pretty good at disrupting anything that might look like a possession through different step-outs. By that time in the first half we were able to control the game. Obviously they got a couple of transitions, and specifically one right at the end. But in the end, it’s a game of scoring goals and they scored the goals. To be fair to them, they stuck with what they were doing playing into transition and the opportunities presented themselves and they finished them.”

On how concerned he was about Seattle’s halftime adjustments:
“Whenever you have that kind of momentum that’s opportunity lost if you don’t come away with something. I can’t say I came in with the feeling of concern. It was a matter of coming into the second half and seeing what kind of adjustments (Seattle) made. The biggest adjustment they made was to switch the winger. Aside from that, it’s not like they changed anything that they were doing – it was just a switch of players that we needed to manage better. I thought we were our own worst enemy again in terms of ball circulation and speed. That allowed them really to get back in the game and to punish us with the first goal.”

On how he feels about his team making it this far after the ups and downs of the season:
“I’m extremely proud of our group. That’s probably the first thing I should’ve said from the very outset in addition to congratulating the Sounders. Our group has battled. It’s been a season, in some ways, that has felt like two or three seasons all in one. This group has really come together through the challenges that existed through the middle of the season and the changes that occurred at the beginning of the season. I thought as we came back out of the Gold Cup break and the summer transfer window that we started to put our roster together. This group really started to come together. They sacrificed for each other and enjoyed playing with each other and enjoyed fighting for each other. They really took on the concepts that we put forth as a club, as a team and as a coach. I think they just built. Every season is a process and rarely, like 2017 was for us, that you’re on the top the whole way through, especially when you go through big changes at the beginning of the season. The latter part of the season was such a joy and a pleasure with this group and I think they left everything on the field. We went on the road and played two very good teams prior to this and came up with two very big results. We felt confident we could do it today and unfortunately we fell short.”

On the loss of Jozy Altidore and his impact:
“It’s soccer. You work with what you have and unfortunately Jozy got injured right before the playoffs. I thought the rest of the group really stepped up. We looked at different ways to game plan and be dangerous over the course of this playoffs. We knew we would lack some of the presence that Jozy has in and around the box. It just meant we evolved and we became something different. When he came in, it also changed a bit of our dynamics because he does differently. We missed him. These playoffs go so fast in so many ways that if you get a guy who’s not healthy when the playoffs start sometimes you don’t get him the rest of it. That’s life and I’m so proud of the guys. I wish for Jozy’s case that he would’ve been able to play more because I know he missed a good one.”

On when it was decided that Altidore was going to play today:
“It was over the last two days. Through this whole process we’ve tried to do all the physical work from day-to-day, week-to-week. He had to heal a little bit first then we wanted to see how much functional movement he could actually do because before you strike the ball you have to be able to just do basic functional stuff. You have to be able to high-speed run and be able to decelerate, change directions and all of those kinds of things. Really up until two days ago it was all about that and then we brought in the ball. He was receiving balls, short passes and then the last part of it was super accelerated. He trained when we arrived on Friday and then again with the group yesterday. We tried to really minimize and convince him to not shoot. We tried to minimize the amount of shots he was taking. He was responding well. He still had mild soreness because it was just stuff he hadn’t done, but he was OK enough that we felt like for 30 minutes or so today that we had him as a guy we could go to. It was good to get him out there.”

On the game:
“In the moment it is frustrating and the heartache of losing a final like this – that is the overriding emotion. With time and then, you, the group, will as always learn from moments like this, from experiences like this, and make sure they get used in their right way to push us forward.”

On the atmosphere in Seattle:
“It’s a decent atmosphere. Obviously this city has a good connection with this team. There is some history here. We all have respect for the club and what they have built here.”

On controlling the game and not winning:
“For me it was more than just the first half. Until they scored in the second half I am not sure if they had crossed midfield. That was part of our frustration with the play with [Jonathan] Osorio at midfield. Up until that point we been on top of things. We had obviously a pretty good first half. The second half had started. We were putting together some good stuff. We were in their end. I think that play came as now they had been, we had them pinned back and now they are trying to get out a bit. We re-pressed, Oso – I can't remember exactly comes away with the ball or wiggles away – for me it is a foul. But that is football. These things go both ways. Obviously in the moment there is frustration because a play that a lot of us on the field thought was a foul wasn’t called, but that is football.”

On the season and strong run at the end of the year:
“Right now, the feeling is not a positive one. That is normal when you lose a final like that. There is no solace. There is no consolation prize. That part hurts. In the process I think there is always a big pride inside our group of who we are, what we are all about and that part will always be there.”

On using this for next year:
“Ultimately that would be, that is always the idea. To use the experiences, both positive and negative to push the group on. To motivate. To drive guys forward. Again right now it is, it is impossible to think about anything.”

On getting in the game and playing and the loss:
“It is difficult especially because I think in the first 15 minutes we have the game. You know we outplay them, we have most of the ball, we are creating good chances. I think we were just not able to put one away. The longer the game goes 0-0, they remain 50/50, any team can take advantage. They get an incredibly lucky goal, this is what happens. This is another learning experience. All we can now is get ourselves going again and get ourselves ready for next year.”

On the game plan for the match:
“Just looks like a lot of what we have been doing. I think what it looks like is the team has the ball. We are playing through them almost at will. We are creating chances. We just missed that final piece of quality in the middle there. Like I said before, you have to look at the positives. It was a tough year, in a lot of ways. For us to arrive at this game, and to put on the type of season we did with all those circumstances, I think was a positive.”

On when he knew he could play:
“Friday after training I felt good. I showed the coach obviously that I could play and that I could do everything. I just declared myself to the staff obviously that I was fit by taking part in the session.”

On his thoughts:
“We are sad. We played a great game today. I think after Seattle’s first goal we were affected by that. It was really an impact on our mental side. Then after that we saw that Seattle really didn’t do much at their home field. Because we were attacking and trying to find the goal, that is when the other goals came for Seattle. Unfortunately that is the way the game ended but we are happy for the season we had this year.”

On things not clicking in the final third:
“We knew that what happened in the other games, we knew we could score goals in the final third. We tried to find the net. That was our objective since we started the game. The coach put a great game strategy for us. Unfortunately the goal was a game-changer for us. It killed the psychological part of the team.”

On his first season in MLS:
“I have heard since I came to the league the most important thing of the league would be the playoffs and the last few games. I think we had a great team that competed really to the level to beat Atlanta and New York City in the previous games. We had a great game today and we expected to win today.”