LA shocker: Seattle Sounders headed to MLS Cup after masterful display

After a record-setting regular season, LAFC's bid to win MLS Cup ended after two games.

The excitement of LAFC's 5-3 win over the LA Galaxy last Thursday in the Western Conference semifinals was a distant memory as boos resounded from the Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday night.

LAFC fell to the Seattle Sounders, 3-1, and never looked like getting an equalizer after the Sounders went ahead 2-1 with a pair of goals four minutes apart midway through the first half.

“I don’t think that tonight we were good enough," said LAFC coach Bob Bradley.

That shouldn't take anything away from the play of the Sounders.

In one of the great individual performances in MLS playoff history, Peruvian Raul Ruidiaz scored twice and set up Nicolas Lodeiro for the winning goal.

Jordan Morris, Ruidiaz and Lodeiro created all kinds of problems for Bradley's defense that has now allowed three goals in each of LAFC's three playoff games in 2018 and 2019, all at home.

But it was Seattle game plan to push the LAFC attack to the outside and shut down its two young Uruguayan wingers, Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez, that frustrated the Supporters' Shield winners and left Carlos Vela, who finished the game with one shot, isolated.

“I think we had four shots on goal,” said Bradley. “They had numbers back, they clogged the middle, they defended in a compact and strong way and then, if you don’t move the ball quick enough, when you get up there it’s not easy to get shots.”

Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said the game plan worked on both sides of the ball.

“We wanted to push LAFC into the areas where they were less effective,” he said. “So that was the entire game plan, to see if we could slow down their attack. On the attacking side, we knew we could create chances against this team. We knew we could. They take many risks when they defend, their counter-press, they take risks."

The Sounders came into the game as heavy underdogs, but they got a masterful performance from a veteran team that is heading to MLS Cup for the third time in four years.

Nine players who played on Thursday night are holdovers from MLS Cup 2017 and six played in MLS Cup 2016.

Seattle didn't score in either game -- it won MLS Cup 2016 in a shootout after scoreless draw -- but it didn't have Ruidiaz, who moved to MLS in July 2018.

Ruidiaz has scored six goals in five playoff games and gives the Sounders a threat that allows them to attack.

“We could have gone into a shell," Schmetzer said of the challenge faced by LAFC. "We could have sat back and accepted we would lose, but we didn’t.”

Oct. 29 in Los Angeles
LAFC 1 Seattle 3. Goals: Atuesta 17, Ruidiaz 22, 64, Lodeiro 26.
LAFC -- Miller; Segura, Harvey, Blackmon, Zimmerman; Atuesta, Blessing (Kaye 45), Nguyen (A.Perez 77); B.Rodriguez (Diomande 53), Rossi, Vela.
Seattle -- Frei; Leerdam, Kim, Arreaga, Smith (Torres 88); Svensson, Roldan; Jones (Delem 64), Lodeiro, Morris (Nouhou 76); Ruidiaz.
Referee: Jair Marrufo.
Att.: 22,099.

10 comments about "LA shocker: Seattle Sounders headed to MLS Cup after masterful display".
  1. beautiful game, October 30, 2019 at 9:22 a.m.

    With Marrufo on the pitch, the blatant fouls go unpunished.

  2. Doug Broadie replied, October 30, 2019 at 2:17 p.m.

    You could say that about most of the referees in MLS.  As long as we depend upon English referees to hold the reins in MLS (PRO), you can expect games like this.  In that vein, how many English referees were at the last world cup.  ZERO!
    I've always said that the French referees are the best in the world at handling a game.  We would be better to follow their example.
    If Martin Atckinson, Alan Chapman and Kevin Stott (and now Marrufo) were walking down the street and a three car pileup happened in front of them, would they recognize it as a wreck.  They certainly cannot recognize a foul.  Old joke of mine.

  3. Kent James replied, November 2, 2019 at 2:07 p.m.

    While I enjoyed the game, there were at least three times players blatantly knocked people off the ball (I think they were all Sounders knocking LAFC players off in their defensive end, one of which should have been a penalty).  Two of them were shoulder charges and as a defender, I appreciate a good shoulder charge, but I always thought you could go shoulder to shoulder on the way to the ball, not use your shoulder to knock down your opponent, and then take the ball. On one of them Marrufo actually explained to an LAFC player that he used the shoulder, so I guess that made it okay?  That's the kind of bad logic that many youth players use ("hey ref, I used my shoulder!").  I would hope referees at the professional level could do better.

  4. Wallace Wade, October 30, 2019 at 10:17 a.m.

    Congratulations to the Sounders! I'm sure there are tears at the MLS offices. Karma Police for Coach Bradley 

  5. humble 1, October 30, 2019 at 10:57 a.m.

    The old adage - defense wins championships.  Defending 'Nobody' in the box gets you nothing.  1st goal - defender does not check for backside support before going on the front foot on Diaz - outside the box - and - surprise - gets beat and Diaz gets open dribble to shoot for goal #1.  2nd goal - Lodiero left wide open on right side of 'D' by zone defenders defending Nobody in the box - has space for a free 'control' dribble before his shot for goal #2.  3rd goal - Diaz left wide open by midfielders trailing him - and the ball (ouch!) - and not closing - and - not picked up by zone defenders in the box busy defending - Nobody - again - gets a lightly contested shot for goal #3.  Having watch Swansea fall apart - and - watching Houston Dynamo all season - and basically almost any goal in the MLS this is no surprise.  Hats off to Schmetzer who had his team well prepared with a solid plan - that they executed on the pitch - in spite of going down a goal - and has his team lined up for another shot at glory. 

  6. Ric Fonseca replied, October 30, 2019 at 3:52 p.m.

    Interesting game.  The family wento see the game and walked away very disappointed - of course - in the score, but even more disappointing in the manner it was refereed, the defensive-negative Sounder's game, and the manner in which the LAFC approached the game.  My conclusion is that IMHO, LAFC was simply outplayed, and forgive me LAFC fans, and outcoached.  That the sounders parked the bus in their defensive third, used very "expertly" time wasting tactics (imagined, and yes of course, "real" fouls, and the lack of the referee not consulting VAR on the two handball situations that would've given the home team a PK, plus other non-called fouls against LAFC's nr. 10, in the Sounders penalty area, made for a very disappointing LAFC game.  
    Interstingly, I heard many- if not hundreds of nasty calls and comments aimed at the center official, from " payroll" to other nasty and vulgar comments in various languages.  And yes there was some booing aimed not so much at the Black and Gold team, but at the team of officials.  I've read many fb comments from home fans, as well as read the two LA Times articles, that - while at least a bit objective - one stood out and immediately placed the LAFC in the same category as the Dodgers and Rams (though not the Lakers or Kings!!!)  One other comment that I heard was, now the fans could see where the Sounders parked their bus they rode down to LA, it was right dab smack in their defensive third, equating it to more negative soccer athan fortunate and well placed shots on goal.  Lastly, you can;t win a game if you don't shoot and the Sounders went out all the way to reduce the LAFC attaching guys; and, though many are calling for the LAFC GK, it wasn't just him that couldn't stop the goals, it was that the Black n Gold did not try many shots from outside the PA.  So, now, on to next year!!!

  7. Nick Gabris, October 30, 2019 at 11:08 a.m.

    Horrible refereeing for a game. Why did the ref not look at VAR on those possible handb
    alls, especially in a playoff game?? 


  8. John Soares, October 30, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.

    Was it over confidence or underestimating your opponent??
    LAFC got cocky after scoring first and early
    Give some credit to the Sounders...better game plan and consistancy.
    Ofcourse they parked the bus... to some extent. LAFC has BY FAR the best offence in the MLS
    However, with 3 goals and several other excellent opportunities.
    They did a lot of driving as well:)

  9. Paul Cox, October 30, 2019 at 6:51 p.m.

    Oh, the complaints about handballs.

    Neither was a handball under the current rules. The one where Kim had his arm out behind his back is probably a handling offense next season, when MLS moves to the newest LOTG.

    But how can it be a "negative" style when they scored three goals?

  10. John Soares, October 30, 2019 at 10:41 p.m.


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