Handwalla Bwana, an 18-year-old Kenyan, scored his first MLS goal as the Seattle Sounders defeated host Toronto FC 2-1 Wednesday night in a rematch of the past two MLS Cups.
Will Bruin had a goal and an assist for the Sounders (2-4-2), and goalkeeper Stefan Frei made six saves.
Cristian Roldan helped set up the winner, controlling the ball in the middle of the field and finding Bruin. The forward’s through ball put Bwana alone behind the Toronto defense, and the youngster tucked the ball between goalkeeper Alexander Bono’s legs from 15 yards out to break a 1-1 tie in the 54th minute.
With three games in eight days, culminating in Sunday’s Cascadia Cup clash at rival Portland, and playmaking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro sidelined with a foot injury, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer changed his team’s formation, going with five defenders, and didn’t dress veterans Clint Dempsey nor longtime captain Osvaldo Alonso.
The Sounders started only three players who were key performers in their back-to-back Western Conference championship campaigns — Frei, defender Chad Marshall and Roldan.
It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 25th minute on a counterattack nearly the length of the field. After Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco lost the ball near the top of Seattle’s 18-yard box, the Sounders quickly got the ball to Magnus Wolff Eikrem near midfield. He eluded one player down the right wing and fed a pass to Bruin, who was streaking down the middle of the field. Bruin took the pass, moved into the penalty area and blasted a left-footed, 15-yard shot into the top left corner of the net past Bono.
Giovinco nearly tied it in the 37th minute, but his free kick from just outside the penalty area eluded the wall of Sounders defenders and clanked off the right post.
Toronto (2-5-1) got the equalizer in the 40th minute. Victor Vazquez lobbed a pass over the Sounders’ back line for Giovinco at the top of the 6-yard box. With Frei charging out of his net toward him, Giovinco flicked a pass across the middle for Jonathan Osorio, who outleaped Seattle defender Gustav Svensson and headed the ball into the net.
Toronto was without forward Jozy Altidore. The team announced Tuesday that Altidore would miss four to six weeks after undergoing foot surgery.
—Field Level Media