Schmetzer: Sounders' halftime adjustments not enough in final
TORONTO -- From a Seattle perspective, perhaps the lasting image of the 2017 MLS Cup will be the sight of Nouhou Tolo standing on the sideline waiting to come on as a second-half substitute as Toronto's Jozy Altidore broke free for the opening goal.
Despite being overrun for 67 minutes, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer opted to not bring on any reinforcements. By the time they were finally introduced, it was too late, and Schmetzer admitted he'd be questioning his own decisions during the offseason.
"As far as the substitutions go, yes, you can always second-guess yourself as a coach," he said. "Should I have put [Nouhou] in three minutes earlier prior to the goal, what would have happened? Certainly, I'll do some self-reflection on that.
"It's one of those things I'll learn from as a coach, to see if I can't figure out some ways that I could've helped the team win and make sure I give them every opportunity to be successful."
Schmetzer thought a couple of minor strategic tweaks at halftime could turn the tide -- midfielders Rodriguez and Nicolas Lodeiro swapped sides -- but they didn't prove to be enough.
"I thought once we were able to get into halftime and make some adjustments, I thought we would give ourselves a chance," Schmetzer said. "The adjustments we made at halftime didn't work."
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the 2016 MLS Cup MVP, kept the Sounders in it for a half with a series of increasingly outlandish saves.
Schmetzer added: "At some point, if you're going to rely on your goalkeeper in that many moments, one of them is going to get through."
Toronto FC dominated Seattle throughout the championship-game rematch, controlling 63 percent of the possession in the first half and firing off 22 total shots en route to a 2-0 victory that was more comprehensive than the final score indicated.
"They were able to accumulate a lot of numbers in the midfield, allowing them to have control of the game all of the time," midfielder Victor Rodriguez said through a translator. "... They accumulated a lot of players on the inside, knowing that we like to play on the inside, as well."
Added Cristian Roldan: "They pressed us and we had no solution."
Matt Pentz is a Seattle-based soccer reporter covering primarily the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps. Follow him on Twitter @mattpentz.