SEATTLE â€” This was less about any measure of revenge and more a chance for Toronto FC to prove it can earn a result facing challenging circumstances.
Despite playing on a short week and without star Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto outplayed Seattle, earning a 1-0 win over the Sounders on Saturday thanks to Jozy Altidore’s first-half goal from the penalty spot.
The rematch of last year’s MLS Cup final provided a little bit of satisfaction for Toronto after watching Seattle celebrate its first title on the banks of Lake Ontario on a frigid night last December. A regular-season win won’t supersede losing a title match, but it was the fourth straight victory for surging Toronto, including a midweek win over Orlando City.
“If we wanted there were a million excuses today. Short rest. Brutal travel day. Early kickoff. Turf. Few guys at home. You name it,” Toronto captain Michael Bradley said. “But good teams with real mentalities find ways on all types of days to compete and to win. … You play against a good team in their stadium in what’s never an easy place to play, and I really felt like we had things totally under control. This is a big win.”
Altidore was the best player on the field despite his side playing minus Giovinco, and starters Victor Vazquez and Eriq Zavaleta. Even though Seattle dominated possession, Altidore and Toronto had the best chances at goal.
Altidore’s goal came in the 23rd minute after he was chopped down from behind by Seattle defender Roman Torres in the penalty box. Altidore calmly put his shot into the right corner of the net as Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei went the opposite direction.
Toronto is 2-0 in the Pacific Northwest this season, having already won 2-0 at Vancouver in March and ended Seattle’s 14-game home unbeaten streak.
“It’s nothing compared to the final, but our message in a tough week was try to take a little bit of something back just in terms of motivation,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. “I think that helps when you’re grinding things out at the end. I think getting a result like that in the champion’s stadium means something.”
Rather than Seattle celebrating its title with another win over Toronto, it was a second straight week of frustration after needing three goals in the final 15 minutes to draw with New England last week.
Seattle had scoring chances early in the match â€” even had a goal disallowed in the first 10 minutes â€” but the offensive skills of Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Will Bruin were unable to break down Toronto’s defence. Seattle appeared to score early when Morris flicked a header past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin, but the goal was waived off after Gustav Svensson was flagged for being offside despite not touching the ball. It appeared to be the correct call as Svensson’s presence froze Irwin and kept him from making the save on the initial header.
Morris was also stuffed by Irwin on a scramble in the box later in the first half, but the Sounders’ chances were limited thereafter.
“There’s a lot of frustration in that locker room,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We’re tired of that same story line, extended possession and getting a bunch of chances. That story line is getting very old, very fast.”
Tim Booth, The Associated Press