SEATTLE — From the opening kickoff, the third installment of Seattle vs. Toronto in M.L.S. Cup had a familiar feel to it.
Once again, Toronto was the aggressor, controlling much of the possession, patiently knocking the ball around in Seattle’s half, waiting for an opening. Once again, Seattle was content to sit back and absorb the pressure, then charge forward in a furious counterattack whenever it got the ball. And once again, it seemed, the only thing missing was goals.
The formula worked for the Sounders in 2016, when they beat Toronto on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw, but backfired a year later when Toronto posted a 2-0 victory. This year, when the goals finally arrived, they were Seattle’s, and it was the Sounders celebrating at the final whistle: 3-1 victors in front of 69,724 deliriously happy hometown fans.
“I’m going to take it in, I’m going to get a little emotional, because it’s really a good moment for the city of Seattle, the fans,” Seattle Coach Brian Schmetzer said. “These fans deserve it. Those players deserve it.”
Seattle became the sixth M.L.S. team to win multiple league titles, finally giving one of the league’s most robust fan bases a hometown championship.
Toronto had held the momentum for much of the first half of the final, but the Sounders broke through in the 57th minute when Kelvin Leerdam, a 29-year-old defender from Suriname, collected the ball on the right side of the penalty area and fired a shot. The attempt appeared to be traveling well wide of the goal before it deflected off Toronto defender Justin Morrow and into the back of the net, sending the crowd — a record for a sporting event at CenturyLink Field, the home of the N.F.L.’s Seattle Seahawks — into earsplitting celebrations.
Victor Rodriguez doubled the lead in the 76th minute, collecting a pass near the top of the area and curling a shot beyond the outstretched arms of Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. Seattle’s Peruvian forward, Raul Ruidiaz, put the game away with a breakaway goal in the 90th minute.
Jozy Altidore pulled one back for Toronto in extra time, but the result was secured by then.