Sounders Rob The Banc, Eliminate LAFC

In Seattle Sounders 3-1 road victory at Banc of California Stadium Tuesday, Nicolas Lodeiro’s first half go-ahead goal flipped the script on LA Football Club. The win put Seattle in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final against Toronto FC.

Unlikely Underdog

Going into the match, Seattle wasn’t the better team on paper. The Pacific Northwesterners, though, came into Downtown LA and showed why they’re one of the best franchises in MLS history.

From intelligent time-wasting that frustrated the sellout crowd to key goalkeeping and defending. The visitors rolled in, did their job, robbed The Banc and went back home with yet another Western Conference title.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan. “The amount of possession and chances that they had. The half chances that we had that our DP’s buried. The amount of effort that our team put in was incredible.”

LAFC Go in Front

Seattle started the game on the front foot. For the first ten minutes, the midfield duo of Roldan and Gustav Svensson stuffed passing lanes in the LAFC attacking third.

It took a finely converted Eduard Atuesta 30-yard free kick in the 17 minute to lift LAFC and the home fans into a frenzy. A quick response from the visitors through Raul Ruidiaz, though, evened things five minutes later and created nervousness in the stands.

Just four minutes later, Seattle captain Lodeiro made something out of nothing with a lethal floor shot that went just inside the left goal post for a 2-1 lead which the Sounders wouldn’t surrender.

LAFC manager Bob Bradley felt that at the start of the second half his team had the chance to “push the game more” and “had a great start.” Then Ruidiaz struck again.

“We’ve had these games,” said Bradley while describing the inability to handle situations correctly. “We’ve had these moments. Where we’re the team that’s going to spend more time on their end, but you’re ability to control some of those transition moments and when you need to make a play. Those things let us down today.”

Like a Broken Record

It’s those same things that kept LAFC from winning during its worst period during the season. The Sounders came in with that same game plan and executed it to perfection. Seattle manager Brian Schmetzer, in the big dance for the third time in four years, was the architect.

“We devised a game plan,” Schmetzer said subtly when asked to talk about his blueprint going into the match. “The players executed the game plan. And we ended up winning the game.”

Bradley and LAFC now approach an offseason feeling empty-handed. How they can feel that way speaks volume of the second year club following the history-making regular season they accomplished.

“In the end we have to be proud with what we’ve done all year and learn,” LAFC captain Carlos Vela said. “After today we see everything as bad but we have to change some things and get strong, come back next year and be better. It’s the only way.”