The 2017 MLS season seems like it existed for the sole purpose of letting Toronto FC vent its frustration. Toronto ended 2016 on the worst of notes, failing to score in the MLS Cup and losing to the Seattle Sounders, who emerged victorious in a penalty shootout despite not having a shot on goal in regulation.
In response to that demoralizing loss, Toronto dominated MLS in 2017. It was a record-setting campaign on all fronts, as the Reds won the Supporters' Shield with an MLS-record 69 points. They also tied the record for single-season wins (20) and finished in the top three all-time in points per game, goal differential and goals scored.
So it was only fitting Toronto would end that all-time great season with successful redemption. The Reds faced the Sounders once again in the 2017 MLS Cup final Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto. This time, they wouldn't be denied. Although it took more than an hour to get on the board, Toronto dominated Seattle from the first whistle to the last and rode goals from Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez to a 2-0 win and the club's first ever MLS Cup. Toronto also became the first club in MLS to win a domestic treble, claiming the Supporters' Shield, Canadian Championship and the MLS Cup in 2017.
Seba is 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/ED55b5aC4T- Toronto FC (@torontofc) December 9, 2017
Name a Red and he probably had a chance in the first hour of the final. While Toronto was in complete control of the game, it couldn't find a way past Seattle keeper Stefan Frei early. This was a nightmare scenario for Toronto, as Frei's heroics were a big reason Seattle was able to come away with the win in the 2016 final.
But just as a sense of déjà vu was sweeping Toronto, the Reds got a breakthrough on a fantastic counter-attack. A few quick passes out of the back reached Sebastian Giovinco on the Seattle side of midfield. With the defense out of sorts from the quick push forward, Giovinco found an opening and played on to Altidore, who was streaking downfield between the Seattle center backs. He used his power and pace to beat both men and finished past Frei to give Toronto its first goal in two MLS Cup finals against the Sounders.
A second look shows that Altidore might have been a hair offside, but the referee chose not to go to replay, so the goal stood without debate. And that's pretty much how the rest of the match went: without debate. Seattle was only a goal down, but it never threatened to level. Toronto dominated, and the goal signaled the effective end of the match, no matter how close the score was. In the final minutes, Toronto fans were celebrating as if they already had the MLS Cup in hand.
And just as the fans began lighting celebratory flares during stoppage time, the Reds got another goal. Vazquez finished off the match by cleaning up a rebound in the 94th minute to end the final on a high note.
* * *
Cy Brown writes about football, golf, soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.