LAS VEGAS — The Seattle Sounders saw their 2021 Leagues Cup run end in heartbreaking fashion, as a late penalty kick concession and subsequent insurance goal doomed the Rave Green to a 3-2 defeat against Club León in the tournament final at Allegiant Stadium on Wednesday.
Seattle found themselves in the driver’s seat early in the second half after a 48th-minute goal from Cristian Roldan. But León would score three straight after that, with Ángel Mena tallying a brace before Emmanuel Gigliotti bagged a late rebound finish that rendered a late consolation tally from Seattle’s Nicolas Benezet a moot point.
León had perhaps the best look for either side in the first half right on the stroke of halftime off a corner kick from Mena that found Jean Meneses free in front of goal at the far post. Meneses drove the subsequent header into the ground, but saw it go just wide of Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, allowing the Sounders to narrowly avoid conceding the opener.
The action would really take off in the second half, starting with Roldan’s huge opener that put Seattle on top 1-0. The US international midfielder redirected home a cross from Jimmy Medranda after Raul Ruidiaz had played him into space down the left side.
That opened the match right up, with Seattle having a couple of good chances to double the lead in the immediate aftermath of the goal, most notably off a golden opportunity from Ruidiaz that the Peruvian smashed off the post.
That miss proved significant, as León equalized just as the contest passed the hour mark. It was Mena who atoned for his earlier miss, cashing home a feed from Elías Hernández right on the doorstep.
León would then get the go-ahead tally from the penalty spot nine minutes from full time after Seattle’s Shane O’Neill was whistled for a foul in his own area, allowing Mena to convert from the spot. Gigliotti added the final goal for the Liga MX side, pouncing on the rebound after Frei saved an initial shot on a breakaway.
Seattle would get one last lifeline when Benezet’s deflected shot found the net during second-half stoppage time, but Ruidiaz saw one last-gasp look at a dramatic leveler go just wide.
- 48′ – SEA – Cristian Roldan |
- 61′ – LEO – Ángel Mena |
- 81′ – LEO – Ángel Mena (PK) |
- 85′ – LEO – Emmanuel Gigliotti |
- 90’+2′ – SEA – Nicolas Benezet |
- THE BIG PICTURE: There’s no shame in coming up short against a team of Club León’s quality, but Seattle will be frustrated at how this one ended, considering they had the lead after Roldan’s opener, and the pair of goals they gave up to go down 3-1 were preventable in nature. Seattle can take pride in topping two Liga MX foes to get to this point and giving León everything they could handle, but the sting from letting a chance at history slip through their fingers might linger for a while.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This is the type of finish that Ruidiaz makes his living on, and if it had gone in, the Sounders would have been up 2-0 and might well have been the ones lifting the trophy at the end of the night.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Ángel Mena gets the honors for pacing his team with a brace as part of an all-around dynamic performance.
- SEA: Wednesday, September 29 at San Jose Earthquakes | 10:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
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