After a very solid opening hour of play that included Cristian Roldan's ice breaker, the Seattle Sounders fell apart in the late going to suffer a 3-2 Leagues Cup Final loss to Club León on Wednesday evening.
The Rave Green did very well to always keep the game in front of them until halftime, and then emerged from the break with an added attacking impetus that resulted in a lead.
Eventually, though, the Seattle mistakes began and Leon capitalized on three of them to edge this title bout at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium.
The Sounders' netminder had little to do for 60 minutes but looked a bit frantic as the game turned. Frei sold out on the line instead of attacking a mishandle on the León equalizer, and followed up his best stop of the night by losing the rebound on their capper.
The right wingback was able to author dangerous moments when he got forward, but that just didn't happen enough. While the younger Roldan brother generally kept things quiet in his defensive corner, he was a stride short of stopping the cross on León's first.
The big guy was a forbidding presence whenever León went straight at him. However, they were able to give Yeimar some trouble by luring him away from his post. He also shares a demerit with both center back partners because none of them were aware enough to cut out the cross on León's opener.
Until his foolish giveaway gifted Leon the stand-up winner, Arreaga was arguably Seattle's top performer of the night. He calmly ushered the Sounders out of trouble on numerous occasions, so the ill-timed gaffe was a major letdown.
Like Arreaga, his left-hand man was quite steady at the back until he very much wasn't. O'Neill made some helpful stops, including a big close-range shot block. And then, with 10 minutes to go in a tie game, his unnecessarily clumsy challenge in the box teed up León's spot-kick winner. It was the game's decisive mistake.
The left-sider was one of his side's better possession hawks in the opening frame, and he'd eventually jump forward to set up Seattle's opener. On the downside, Medranda also was a bit lax tracking weak-side runners, such as on León's leveler.
To put it mildly, this was not Joao Paulo's best effort. His passing touch was off all night, and he was frequently a step slow to cut off lanes defensively. It was his turnover that set off León's move for the equalizer.
The Seattle native was rather functional in the first half, making glue plays on both sides of the ball all over the park. But Rowe seemed to fall off a cliff not long after the Sounders took the lead, and started being very loose with the ball in midfield.
For sizable portions of the game, Roldan's energy was Seattle's top attacking weapon. His wheels gave León more trouble than the rest of his team combined. Of course, if there was anyone who'd motor into position for a comfortable finish, it would be the No. 7 man. Shortly thereafter, he created a great chance that Raul Ruidiaz put off the post.
The veteran forward had his moments in link play, but his touch was a little loose and his ideas came a little too slowly. Montero did contribute defensively but was spared blushes when a lost free-kick mark missed the frame.
The strike star showed his soccer IQ on Seattle's opener, drawing defenders away from the box before deftly releasing the crosser. Ruidiaz had other moments of menace, but really needed his side to hold possession much better.
This is a tough one. Even after the equalizer, the Sounders pretty much had things going their way. Schmetzer's containment-level pressure meant León's ball carriers weren't able to pick their heads up to survey the field, and good shooting looks were barely available. Unfortunately, the Seattle boss waited too long to go to his bench, and some tired legs made some tired mistakes that doomed this trophy hunt.
The left back was unable to bring any flank push after entering midway through the second half.
The strike sub filled his role perfectly, providing the target presence that annoyed León's defense into giving up two late chances, one of which resulted in a goal.
Sure, the deflection helped, but Benezet did his job by firing the shot that gave Seattle momentary late hope.
The youngster clawed the ball away from Leon a couple of times during his short shift.