TORONTO (Reuters) - The Seattle Sounders claimed their first MLS Cup by beating Toronto FC 5-4 on penalties after the Major League Soccer title game ended 0-0 after extra-time on Saturday.
After Toronto’s Justin Morrow hit the crossbar, Seattle defender Roman Torres coolly slotted home the decider as the Sounders finally reached the North American soccer summit after seven seasons of near misses.
With zero shots on goal after 120 minutes it looked as if the Sounders, who have reached the postseason in each of their eight years in the league, would come up short yet again but they found the target when it mattered most.
A spectacular save deep into extra-time by Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei kept Seattle’s championship dream alive as the Swiss dove across the net full stretch and with his left hand tipped away a header from Jozy Altidore that looked a winner.
Frei, who spent five seasons with TFC before moving to Seattle, took MLS Cup most valuable player honours after shutting out a high-powered Toronto attack that had produced 17 goals in five playoff contests.
It was perfect hockey weather at frigid BMO Field, that in three weeks will host the NHL’s Centennial Classic outdoor game, but the bone-chilling temperatures did little to cool down a fired up capacity crowd of close to 36,000.
Toronto made a lively start and enjoyed the run of play in a scrappy opening half but TFC’s was held in check.
The Reds’ best scoring chance came early when Altidore squeezed a shot from inside the area that sliced by the post and a diving Frei in the second minute.
After the break it was Sebastian Giovinco, the other half of Toronto’s strike partnership, finally finding space down the left wing and ripping a shot that just missed the near post.
Despite unrelenting pressure, Toronto FC could not breach a Seattle defence that had conceded just three goals in five playoff matches.
Toronto nearly ended the drama with an injury time winner when Michael Bradley sent in a corner that Frei narrowly punched clear just before a diving Altidore could get his head on the ball.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Larry Fine