For the 3rd time in 4 years, the Seattle Sounders will play for the MLS Cup as they defeated the heavily favored LAFC. Raúl Ruidíaz scored a brace, as Seattle won 3-1.
The odds were not in the Rave Green’s favor when they booked their flight for Los Angeles. Many felt that LAFC were too good, and that their dominant season would continue all the way to their first league championship. After all, they did set the record for most points in league history. They also had the unstoppable Carlos Vela, who could score with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back. The entire country felt they should be the favorites, and that’s all the motivation the Sounders needed.
The match started in the worst way possible for Seattle. In the 16th minute, Carlos Vela won a free kick roughly ten yards outside of the box. He appeared to be the one taking the shot, instead it was Eduard Atuesta. He came from the right side of the ball and whipped it into goal, just past the diving hand of Stefan Frei. Just like that, LAFC had the 1-0 advantage.
Now many people, including myself, said LAFC would score first in this match. But, it would be how the Sounders responded that would be the difference in the game. The LAFC crowd can get rowdy, and can really start to get on top of you the more the momentum goes in favor of the home side. Seattle didn’t allow that to happen.
In the 22nd minute, Raúl Ruidíaz made a little magic happen. He received a pass from Nicolás Lodeiro, then proceeded to slip by his defender. With his right foot, he fired in the equalizer. The Sounders had crushed the LAFC momentum.
Lodeiro would give Seattle their first lead in the 26th. From outside the box, he hit what was essentially a ground ball, into the bottom corner of the net. The air inside of Banc of California stadium was gone.
Now the Sounders had never lost a playoff match when they had the lead going into halftime. With a 2-1 advantage, it wasn’t exactly the most secure of leads. The pressure to score was on LAFC though, and Seattle knew that they would come out guns blazing in the second. They also knew if they could get one more goal, they would put this game away.
Ruidíaz delivered on that 2nd goal, when he put one past Tyler Miller in the 64th. The brace from Ruidíaz ended any hopes for LAFC.
With the win, Seattle punched their ticket to their 3rd MLS Cup Final in 4 years. All that’s left to decide is where that ticket leads to.
For the second week in a row, the Sounders don’t quite know the answer to that question yet. This time it depends on the Eastern Conference Finals match between Toronto and Atlanta. If Atlanta wins, then the Cup Final will be played in Atlanta. If Toronto wins, then the final would be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The good news is that Seattle beat both of these squads during the regular season. The final will be played on Sunday, November 10th, no matter the location. Kickoff will be at 3 pm ET, or noon local time.