By: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – Coming off a terrific run of form and undefeated in their last five MLS home games the Seattle Sounders hosted fellow post season wild card contenders Toronto FC, triumphing over the visitors 3-2 in what was a must win match for both teams.
In the MLS playoff race the Sounders came into today’s game tied in the Western Conference with San Jose at 39 points, who have a game in hand. Toronto face a similar situation in the East, tied with Kansas City at 31 but with just one win in their last eight games.
Seattle’s confidence was evident inside the first minute when Sanni Nyassi powered a shot across goal that went just left of the post. The Sounders continued to keep Toronto on their heels throughout the match by continually pressuring them back into their own half. Chasing after the ball, Toronto played without unity often leaving the Sounders unmarked and allowing the home side acres of space with which to pass through the midfield.
Despite their uneven play, Toronto gained the early lead in the 16’ off a Maicon Santos pass that team captain Dwayne De Rosario was able to turn into a breakaway and chip past Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Seattle quickly answered in the 21’ when Osvaldo Alonso sent a well placed ball through a hole in the Toronto defense that connected with Steve Zakuani who coolly dodged goalkeeper Stefan Frei and put it in the back of the net.
Referee Mark Geiger issued a yellow to Toronto forward Chad Barrett in the 25’ after he recklessly shoved James Riley into the sideline after the ball had already gone out of play. The Sounders capitalized on the resulting free kick, claiming the lead off a well placed ball from Nate Sturgis that Swiss international Blaise Nkufo headed into goal.[picappgallerysingle id=”9901324″]
Toronto picked up a second yellow in the 34’ when defender Dan Gargan took out Nyassi at the knees. Only a few minutes later Seattle’s Alonso required treatment after a blatant studs up challenge from Santos who only got out of a sending off because the referee’s back was turned. Scrappy play continued throughout the match as the visitors began to look desperate and commit thoughtless challenges, resulting in a combined total of 22 fouls and three yellow cards.
After missing chances in the 5’ and 27’, Nyassi’s moment finally came in the 59’ after Toronto defender Adrian Cann made a shoddy clearance that the Seattle midfielder quickly pounced on, drilling a shot past Frei for his first MLS goal. Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid joked after the game, “I told him that I’m not going to wait two years again for another one.”
Toronto made it 3-2 in the in the 88’ when Barrett headed in a cross from sub Nicholas Lindsay but as time ran out the day belonged to the Sounders. Now with 42 points and three more regular season games, Seattle’s goal of 45 is well within reach.