Seattle has had difficulty gets good shots off against Toronto’s 3-5-2 formation — none in last season’s championship final, and only two when the Reds won 1-0 earlier this season at CenturyLink Field.
Yes, the Sounders’ veteran forward received a championship ring despite being sidelined with a heart issue last season. But he is now ultra-motivated, according to coach Brian Schmetzer, to contribute to another one on the field.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who helped Seattle to an MLS Cup time last season with a clutch extra-time save, has had a busy year. He attended U.S. men’s national team camp, turned in a fantastic MLS season and continues to post shutouts in the postseason.
Victor Rodriguez scored on a nifty give-and-go with Will Bruin in the 22nd minute, Clint Dempsey added his third goal of the playoffs early in the second half, and the Seattle Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup final after a 3-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.
Lamar Neagle, who graduated from Jefferson High School, isn’t a starter in Seattle anymore. But he gives coach Brian Schmetzer a proven contributor off the bench, much like Herculez Gomez was for the MLS Cup-winning squad a year ago.
Clint Dempsey scored twice on Thursday to lift Seattle past Vancouver and into the Western Conference finals. The defending champs will now play either Houston or Portland – those teams finish their series on Sunday.
Bruce Arena found Jordan Morris not long after the final whistle blew to offer some encouraging words to the U.S. forward, who had just helped deliver another CONCACAF Gold Cup title to the men’s soccer team.