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WATCH: LAFC open brand new stadium with stoppage-time winner

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It seemed to take forever, but Los Angeles FC got there in the end — no, not their arrival to MLS in 2018, nor Sunday’s debut of Banc of California Stadium following a six-game road trip to start their expansion season.

[ MORE: Atlanta’s unbeaten run reaches 7; TFC implode vs. Chicago ]

The first goal. The first eruption to celebrate the first goal. The first win. The first three points.

For 92 minutes, Sunday’s clash with the Seattle Sounders felt destined for an anticlimactic ending: neither side threatened the other too terribly much, and 0-0 seemed a foregone conclusion. In truth, the severely shorthanded Sounders were the better of the two sides, perhaps the nerves and expectations of the big day were a bit much for LAFC.

Then, in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, it happened. Laurent Ciman laced a 30-yard free kick around a four-man wall and into the typically reliable, waiting arms of Stefan Frei. Only this time, Frei produced a spectacular howler.

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The victory sends LAFC second in the Western Conference, just two points behind Sporting Kansas City (and with two games in hand), and gives Bob Bradley‘s side a three-game winning streak as they look ahead to the rest of their four-game home stand to begin life at Banc of California Stadium.

Champions! TFC crowned MLS Cup champs for first time

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The game in 100 words (or less more): For the first time in franchise history, Toronto FC are champions of Major League Soccer. The best team in the regular season, the last team standing in the postseason. For more than an hour, Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Seattle, the side that broke TFC hearts a year ago, looked painfully familiar for Reds fans, as Stefan Frei, MVP of the 2016 final, turned in another man-of-the-match performance and appeared altogether unbeatable. The Swiss-turned-American goalkeeper made 10 saves before Altidore broke through for TFC, courtesy of some gorgeous build-up play flowing through fellow superstars Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco. TFC thoroughly dominated from start to finish — again, just like last year’s final — to the tune of 22 shots to 7 (11-2 on target). If not for Frei’s early-game heroics, the score would have been 3-0 by halftime. The postseason title puts a tidy bow on top of an already historic season for TFC, who set a new regular-season points record — in a much tougher Eastern Conference, to boot — and leaves little to no doubt over which team was truly the best of 2017.

[ BRADLEY: “Dream became obsession” in pursuit of MLS Cup ]

Three Four Five Six moments that mattered

11′ — Frei rushes out to deny Giovinco — Frei and Sebastian Giovinco will get the majority of the attention here (for the save and blown chance, respectively), but the 50-yard through ball from Victor Vazquez is the real story here. It almost doesn’t look real.

41′ — Frei denies Vazquez at full-stretch — Frei’s made six saves in the first half — none of which were individually spectacular in difficulty,

60′ — Bradley fires from distance, Frei saves again — Michael Bradley, who was neck-and-neck with Frei for best player on the field, made solid contact on a volley from 25 yards out, but Frei was able to get his body behind the bouncing ball and record save no. 8.

64′ — Frei gets to Giovinco’s shot through traffic — Frei couldn’t have seen this ball through a sea of bodies more than a quarter-second before reacting and diving to his left-hand post.

67′ – Finally, at long last, Frei is beaten — For the first time in 714 minutes of playoff soccer, Seattle are beaten. From back to front in five passes and 11 seconds, finished by Altidore, lifted over Frei and into the back of the net.

90+4′ — Vazquez slams home a rebound for 2-0 — Armando Cooper slammed the initial shot off the post, but Vazquez cleaned up the mess to send BMO Field into bedlam.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Michael Bradley

Goalscorers: Altidore (67′), Vazquez (90+4′)

Sounders’ Stefan Frei returns to site of his famous moment

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TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) Stefan Frei would like to make one thing perfectly clear before the Seattle Sounders set foot again in Toronto.

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He would prefer it if someone else on the Sounders roster becomes the MVP of the MLS Cup final this time.

“I would really prefer it if one of our strikers became MVP this year,” Seattle’s starting goalkeeper said with a chuckle.

Frei will return to the scene of his greatest professional moment Saturday when the Sounders face Toronto in the championship match trying to become the fourth team in MLS history to win consecutive league titles.

A year ago, Frei made one of the most stunning saves in the history of MLS championship matches, changing directions and leaping in desperation to get his left hand on Jozy Altidore‘s attempted header in extra time that seemed destined for the top corner of the goal. It was the save Seattle needed to get to penalty kicks, where Frei made another save on Michael Bradley and Roman Torres eventually won the title for the Sounders with his made penalty in the sixth round.

But it’s the save on Altidore that everyone remembers and is certain to be shown repeatedly prior to Saturday’s rematch.

“I’m going to try and do the same thing as last year and at some point really zone out you guys and social media and just focus on the game,” Frei said.

While last year’s game will get a lot of the attention this week, it’s the defensive performance in this year’s playoff run that deserves the focus. Seattle has yet to allow a goal in four postseason games. The Sounders haven’t allowed a goal since a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Oct. 1. That’s a span of six full games since a shot got past Frei or backup Tyler Miller. Miller started the first leg of the West finals against Houston while Frei was slowed by a leg injury.

In the postseason, the Sounders have not allowed a goal since the first leg of the 2016 West finals, the longest postseason shutout streak in MLS history.

“It builds confidence throughout the squad when you have someone like Stef in goal,” Seattle forward Will Bruin said. “He’s going to make a big save when needed.”

For Frei, the final in Toronto will be the conclusion of nearly two non-stop seasons of soccer. It started in February 2016 when Seattle opened its training camp. Between the length of last year’s MLS season and being called into the U.S. national team training camp last January, Frei only had a few weeks of rest in between last year’s championship match and the start of preparations for this season.

But this has arguably been his finest season in MLS. Frei led the league with 13 shutouts in the regular season. In a sign of how much Seattle has improved defensively, he was forced to save just 84 shots in the regular season, the fewest of his four seasons with Seattle.

Frei made it a point to appreciate the atmosphere and celebration after Seattle beat Houston to clinch the Western Conference title last week. A year ago, all Seattle celebrations came away from home. When the final whistle blew last Thursday, Frei climbed on the crossbar of his goal in front of Seattle’s most rabid supporters and pumped his fists in celebration. While the championship match will again be in Toronto, at least part of this run was shared with the fans at home.

“It was awesome. I wish I could have given everybody in the stadium a hug,” Frei said. “We were so fortunate to get on that run last year and capture two trophies, but unfortunately both of them were away from home. So this last weekend when we had a chance to win one at home was amazing.”

Sounders tip Timbers 1-0 in sloppy Cascadia Cup affair (video)

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Cristian Roldan scored the lone goal of an arguably unofficiated match between Portland and Seattle on Saturday, as the Sounders picked up a much-needed win that was anything but pretty at Century Link Field in Washington.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei scooped up his 50th clean sheet as an MLS backstop, and is the 11th player to reach that milestone.

[ MORE: Pulisic, BVB win German Cup ]

Referee Mark Geiger was equally offensive to both sides, denying Portland of a penalty kick via handball and allowing the Timbers’ Vytas Andriuškevičius to thoroughly inspect Jordan Morris’ arms during a second half breakaway.

Roldan turned a corner kick off a Portland defender and home for three points that leave the Sounders, Timbers, and Whitecaps all on three points after two matches played in the 2017 Cascadia Cup.

MLS Snapshot: A bit of Cup revenge for Altidore, TFC over Sounders

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The game in 100 words (or less): MLS Cup 2016 revenge on their minds, and the absence of Sebastian Giovinco (rest) seemingly set to make life more difficult, Toronto FC were completely unfazed by Saturday’s trip to Seattle to take on the reigning champions. In truth, it was hardly a revelation — more of a continuation — for Greg Vanney’s side which extended its current winning streak to four games and kept its fifth clean sheet of the season (just two goals conceded during the four-game run). It’s that defensive solidity which has propelled TFC (19 points from 10 games) to the top spot in the hotly contested Eastern Conference, a point ahead of Orlando City SC (who have played two fewer games). Benoit Cheyrou turned in a stellar performance in midfield (5 tackles won, 3 interceptions and 3 clearances) to lighten the load of defensive duties thrust upon a reworked four-man backline. Jozy Altidore scored the game’s only goal, from the penalty spot after winning the chance himself, and the well-drilled, organized defense held up for the full 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Week 10 preview — LA to bounce back against Chicago? ]

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Morris heads home, but the flag goes up — Gustav Svensson made and obvious play on the ball as it bounded toward the far post, clearly affecting Clint Irwin’s movement across the face of goal. It’s a decision which requires the assistant referee to observe and interpret multiple actions all at once.

23′ — Torres clatters into Altidore; it’s a penalty — Altidore continues to be involved and productive for TFC, as the USMNT striker bagged his 21st goal (to go with 10 assists — 31 games, regular season and playoffs) since bagging his first goal last season, on July 31.

40′ — Frei goes high to deny Altidore — Again, here’s Altidore creating his own shot and half-chance, though Frei gets up to palm his effort over the crossbar.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Benoit Cheyrou

Goalscorers: Altidore (PK – 23′)