Under-equipped Seattle Sounders take advantage of slack defense to shut out Toronto FC

Goals from Dylan Teves and Fredy Montero propelled the under-strength Seattle Sounders to a 2-0 win over Toronto FC in MLS on Saturday.

Teves, who scored in his first career start, took advantage of some loosening of the Toronto defense to give Seattle the lead (8-7-2) in the 39th minute. Montero, a former Vancouver Whitecaps forward, added to the lead in the 60th minute as the TFC backline was again taken aback.

Toronto (5-10-3) has now conceded in 26 straight league games. TFC last held the opposition scoreless in the league on July 25, 2021, when they drew 0-0 at Colorado.

Italian newcomers Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito were among the announced crowd of 23,954 at BMO Field on a warm evening. Both players are eligible to make their TFC debut next Saturday against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes after the league’s secondary transfer window officially opened on Thursday.

The two Italians were given a standing ovation when introduced at half-time.

Toronto, which lost 2-1 to Columbus in midweek, came into the game having won two of their last four league games (2-0-2), but went 2-7- 1 in its last 10 outings.

The Sounders recovered from a poor 2-5-1 start to the season, although their four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) ended in a 2-1 midweek loss to at CF Montreal which marked Seattle’s first loss since May 22.

Seattle had lost just two of its last eight MLS games (5-2-1) despite an injured list that includes Peruvian star forward Raul Ruidiaz, forward Will Bruin and Ecuadorian defender Xavier Arreaga.

Seattle goaltender Stefan Frei, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and Albert Rusnak did not make the trip to Toronto, forcing Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer to dig deep into his roster with Designated Players Ruidiaz and Rusnak , unavailable.

The Sounders opened the scoring late in the first half with their first shot on target. A precise clearance from goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland found Jimmy Medranda near midfield who controlled the ball and sent it to Leo Chu on the flank. Chu edged past defender Carlos Salcedo and sent in a cross which Teves, thwarting centre-back Chris Mavinga, deflected from close range.

Teves, a 22-year-old midfielder from Hawaii, was a college star at the University of Washington, helping the Huskies finish second in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. only one 18-minute appearance on the Sounders bench.

Toronto’s defense was again opened up in the second half by captain Nicolas Lodeiro, who had a choice of two teammates as the TFC defense was in disarray. He opted for Montero who easily beat defenseless keeper Quentin Westberg for his second of the season and 82nd of his MLS career.

Saturday marked the first meeting between the two teams since the Sounders beat Toronto 3-1 in the 2019 MLS Cup Final in Seattle.

Only five Toronto starters from that championship game remain with the team. Lodeiro, the Sounders’ other designated player, was Seattle’s only starter in the 2019 MLS Cup in Saturday’s starting 11.

Heading into Saturday’s game, Toronto and Seattle had met just 14 times in the regular season (with the Sounders holding a 9-3-2 series advantage).

Seattle had won the last three meetings, with Toronto’s last win coming in the 2017 MLS Cup Final – a 2-0 win for TFC at BMO Field.

The game marked the 100th Toronto appearance in all competitions for Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo. The 30-year-old Designated Player, who joined Toronto in 2019 and won league MVP honors in 2020, is out of contract at the end of the season.

Once again, Pozuelo was Toronto’s top offensive threat.

Westberg, who missed midweek in Columbus with a knee injury, was back in goal for Toronto. Salcedo and Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio also returned, replacing Shane O’Neill and Ralph Priso.

Despite its absences, Seattle got off to a good start and forced Toronto into a series of turnovers.

But while Jesus Jimenez put a shot on Seattle’s goal in the first minute, scoring chances were scarce in the first half. Osorio and Pozuelo, from a free kick, both had chances but shot wide.

Canadian referee Silviu Petrescu didn’t let much pass, issuing three yellow cards – two to Seattle and one to Toronto – in the first half. He distributed two others, in Seattle, in the second period.

Toronto forward Ayo Akinola was retired at halftime for a second straight game. He had just 11 touches in the midweek loss and 10 touches on Saturday.

Montero closed in on Seattle in the 52nd, but his shot from a Medranda cross hit the crossbar.

Cleveland made an acrobatic save in the 54th minute, kicking Pozuelo after a fine set-up from Jimenez and Mavinga. Osorio fired wide in the 73rd minute from a Pozuelo corner.

As in the midweek game against Columbus, Toronto pressed on as the second half wore on, but failed to break through Seattle’s defense.

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