Gustav Svensson scored off a corner kick in the final moments of second-half stoppage time, and the Seattle Sounders beat Minnesota United 3-2 on Monday night to advance to the MLS Cup final.
Seattle scored three times in the final 15 minutes of regulation and stoppage time to stun Minnesota and claim the Western Conference championship for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
Seattle will travel to Columbus to face the Crew in the MLS Cup final on Saturday.
Will Bruin scored in the 75th minute to pull Seattle within 2-1 and set the stage for the wild final moments when the Sounders scored twice off corner kicks. Raul Ruidiaz had a fortunate bounce fall at his feet before he beat 23-year-old Canadian goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair to pull the Sounders even at 2-2 just before the end of the 90 minutes.
Seattle continued to press for a winner and nearly got it from Ruidiaz only to see his shot hit the outside of the post. But Svensson came through by rising above the Minnesota defenders on the final corner kick.
St. Clair, from Pickering, Ont., was making his 16th straight start for the Loons. He entered the game on three straight shutouts, having last given up a goal Nov. 4 against Chicago in the penultimate game of the regular-season.
Seattle will attempt to become the first repeat champs in MLS since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011-12.
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For most of the night it appeared the young, upstart Loons would be on their way to Columbus to play in their first final in Minnesota’s fourth MLS season. Minnesota had limited scoring chances but took advantage of the ones they did get, taking the lead on Emanuel Reynoso’s perfect free kick from 30 yards in the first half. Defender Bakaye Dibassy scored on a header off an assist from Reynoso midway through the second half, and the Loons appeared headed for the final.
Reynoso continued to show himself as one of the bright young stars in the league following his move in September from Boca Juniors in Argentina to join the Loons. Reynoso had a part in Minnesota’s final 11 goals of the season, either scoring or assisting on each one of them.
But Seattle’s late substitutions made a huge difference. Bruin came on and almost immediately scored and the late additions of Brad Smith and Svensson proved critical.
It was just the second time in team history two different substitutes scored for the Sounders. Seattle has now won 14 straight playoff matches at home.