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Sounders at Toronto, recap: Running through the 6 with three points

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports Sounders rebound with 2-0 win away against Toronto FC. The Seattle Sounders popped over to Canada for a little weekend trip and grabbed themselves 2-0 win over Toronto FC. Following the frustrating 1-2 home loss to CF Montreal, the win — with a heavily rotated squad — was a nourishing one. Stefan Frei, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and Albert Rusnák were all left at home and given the opportunity to rest while Stefan Cleveland, Léo Chú, Dylan Teves and Danny Leyva started in their places. Kelyn Rowe was allowed to start on the bench, and Jimmy Medranda stepped in at left wingback as the Sounders opted for a 5-4-1 with a box midfield. The Sounders opened up the scoring late in the first half through Dylan Teves’s first career MLS goal — scored in his first MLS start, no less. The play started with a long ball from Stefan Cleveland down the left side of the field to Medranda. Medranda slipped the ball forward for Léo Chú to run onto, at which point Chú ethered Toronto’s Designated Player centerback Carlos Salcedo and hit a low cross into the box that Teves finished first-time. Toronto really started putting on the pressure after the opening goal, looking to work their way back into the game. 9 of Toronto’s 13 total shots came after Teves scored, but for all their effort it was the Sounders creating the better opportunities and finishing the best of them at the hour mark. Jackson Ragen sprayed the ball out wide to Alex Roldan, who cut in-field and found Fredy Montero. Montero dropped the ball back to Nico Lodeiro with his first touch and started his run through the backline. Lodeiro returned the ball and Montero slotted it home with only Quentin Westberg to beat. The Sounders had chances to add to the tally, but will happily settle for a clean sheet and a two-goal road win. This win moves the team into 4th place in the Western Conference. Seattle returns home to host the Portland Timbers on Saturday, July 9 at 1:30 PM. Key moments 10’ — Léo Chú steals the ball in Toronto’s defensive end and drives towards goal. He cuts the ball back for Danny Leyva who finds Nico Lodeiro, but Lodeiro’s shot is high and wide. 22’ — Dylan Teves puts in a cross for Fredy Montero at the near post after Seattle’s pressure creates another dangerous turnover in Toronto’s end, but it’s put out for a corner. 39’ — Dylan Teves! Léo Chú beats Carlos Salcedo on the wing and sends in a low cross that Teves directs into the far netting in his first MLS start! 1-0 Sounders 52’ — Alex Roldan sends a great cross into the area with players crowding the 6-yard box, but Salcedo manages to get it cleared. 54’ — Stefan Cleveland makes an excellent kick save to deny Toronto on a dangerous look, then manages to clean up the loose ball after a fortunate deflection off of Nouhou. 60’ — Montero doubles the lead after he and Lodeiro play a clever give-and-go through Toronto’s defense! With only the ‘keeper to beat, Montero finishes calmly. 2-0 Sounders 83’ — Ralph Priso takes a curling shot to the far post, but Cleveland dives to his right and catches the ball at full-stretch to deny any chances off of a rebound. 90’ — Reed Baker-Whiting nearly opens his account after making a strong run to receive a pass into the middle from Nouhou, but the goalkeeper does well to block the shot. Quick thoughts Nico Lodeiro does everything: Nico Lodeiro, the Seattle Sounders all-action number 10 played back a line from where we typically see him alongside Danny Leyva against Toronto. Not for the first time this season, Lodeiro took up a spot just in front of the centerbacks and instead of being less goal-dangerous or impactful going forward he had his fingerprints in everything the team did. On short rest, Lodeiro spent all 90 minutes covering every centimeter of grass, leading the team in touches and leading both teams with 14 recoveries while also pitching in with additional defensive work. Oh, and he had the assist on the second goal. Lodeiro is a gift, and it’s easy to forget just how good he is. This is what a healthy developmental system looks like: The Sounders suited up a game day roster in which 10 of the 18 players available came up through the Sounders Academy or Tacoma Defiance. 6 of those players are Home Grown Players, and Jackson Ragen only isn’t by definition of a roster mechanism, but he’s as homegrown as the rest of them. This team was seasoned in the USL Championship and MLS Next Pro, and they did a lot more than fill in and hope that one of the regular starters would come in clutch. Danny Leyva held down the center of midfield while Lodeiro did Lodeiro things. Dylan Teves opened the scoring with his first MLS goal, and Josh Atencio, Ethan Dobbelaere and Reed Baker-Whiting came in to close out the game and nearly helped bag a third goal. This is what a healthy developmental system looks like, and this is how you build a top-tier club. Fredy Montero still isn’t done: I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been excited to see Fredy Montero start this season. At times I’ve thought that what Will Bruin offers is a better fit for how the team and players around him want to play, and I think there have been a couple games where Montero has looked a little off. That wasn’t the case tonight. Fredy Montero showed just how much quality he still has to offer through his clean passing, smart movement, and his well-taken goal. But he also offers commitment, and defensive work that wasn’t exactly his calling card in his first stint in Seattle. Montero’s pressure and defensive work from the front made life much harder for Toronto, and while his game-leading 26 duels were seldom successful - he’s credited with winning 32% of his duels - that pressure allowed the players behind him to contest and win more second balls. I didn’t expect to get all of that from Montero in what seems like his last hurrah, but it’s clear how much it still means to him. Did you see that?!? Dylan Teves opens his account. What a moment! @teves_dylan scores his first career @MLS goal! pic.twitter.com/Pylp3qExoT— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) July 3, 2022 He said what?!? "These performances don't come from nothing, we prepare for them during the week. I would feel comfortable playing with anyone on the roster, and anyone on the Defiance roster." Cleveland continued on the culture around the club and shared preparation leading into this win.— Defensa y Boosticia (@timostlundfoss) July 3, 2022 One stat to tell the tale 1,666 - It’s been 1,666 days since Toronto FC last beat the Seattle Sounders. This was Seattle’s 4th win against TFC since then.

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