SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

On to the MLS Cup: Sounders beat Rapids for Western Conference title

Nov 27, 2016, 3:29 PM | Updated: 5:17 pm

The Seattle Sounders are heading to the first MLS Cup in team history.

Arriving in Colorado with a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals, Jordan Morris scored a goal to give Seattle a 3-1 aggregate win Sunday and progress to the MLS Cup.

The Sounders had a nearly healthy squad, though both Erik Friberg and Brad Evans were late scratches for Brian Schmetzer’s squad due to injury. For the Rapids, Sam Cronin’s suspension led to a start for former Sounder Michael Azira. Dillon Powers also got a start in midfield as Colorado tried everything to stop the threat of Nicolas Lodeiro. With their lead in hand and a strong starting XI, the Sounders snatched a lone goal and held on 1-0 to get the 3-1 victory.

The home side started with some of the best chances of the match, but the Sounders’ defense was equal to them all in the first 15 minutes. Morris won the first corner of the game after the Sounders’ first real spell of attack about halfway through the half. Nothing came of any of it, though, as Colorado’s strong defense showed off yet again. Good for the Sounders, though, was that Colorado was also unable to do much on attack.

The second half started a bit better, with both teams opening up their attacks to try and get the scoring started. Andreas Ivanschitz and Morris swapped sides for Seattle, though the former was replaced by Flaco Fernandez after about 10 minutes.

The swap seemed to help the Sounders’ attack efforts, as Morris broke the deadlock after a killer pass by Lodeiro right in front of the box. The rookie forward smashed home his second goal of this playoff series, but he stayed down with what looked like a slight ankle injury due to contact with Colorado goalkeeper Zac MacMath. Morris got some treatment and was able to come back on the pitch after a few minutes. Osvaldo Alonso also went down with an injury minutes later, and even though he was able to come back on initially, he eventually had to be substituted for Oniel Fisher.

The game increased its pace and intensity after the goal, but Seattle did its best Colorado impression and held strong on defense.

Man of the match: Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who kept out all of Colorado’s attacks (even if most of them were pretty tame).

Turning point: The goal for Seattle was truly the game changer, as it forced Colorado to open up their tight defense.

One reason to worry: Multiple players took injuries in this one, including midfield lynchpin Alonso and goal-scorer Morris. The final will be much, much harder without those two.

One reason to relax: The Sounders are headed to their very first MLS Cup final. This is the ultimate reason to relax – the 2016 miracle has just one more step to go.

Other notes:

• Cristian Roldan yet again showed how much he has improved, going toe-to-toe with Jermaine Jones and company for the second time in a week. Even if Alonso is out for the final, Roldan will surely be able to hold his own in midfield.

• Jordan Morris played through an apparent injury, which is probably a good sign for his status for the final. He was absolutely the hero for Seattle in this series, and if healthy he could go on and be the hero again in the MLS Cup.

Seattle Sounders FC

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