SEATTLE – Welcome back, Roman Torres.
Torres scored in the 29th minute and the Seattle Sounders beat Minnesota United 1-0 on Sunday in the regular-season finale to finish second in the Western Conference.
The Sounders (16-10-8) will host a first-round playoff game against FC Dallas. They are making their MLS-record 11th consecutive playoff appearance since joining the league in 2009. The teams battled to a 0-0 tie in Seattle on Sept. 18. Dallas won the other game of the season series, 1-0 in Texas on June 1.
Minnesota (15-11-8), which started the day tied for second with Seattle, slipped to fourth and will host the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first round of the new single-elimination playoffs. It will be the first-ever playoff game for the third-year team. The Loons and Galaxy tied 0-0 in Minnesota on April 24. In the other game, L.A. won at home, 3-2 on March 16.
Seattle’s scoring play started when Nico Lodeiro floated a corner kick from the left-wing side across the field. Joevin Jones picked it up in the right side of the penalty area, crossed a target ball toward the far post, and Torres – in his second game back from a 10-game suspension – ran onto it at the top of the 6-yard box. His header ricocheted off the turf and into the left side of the net past goalkeeper Vito Nannone.
Torres was suspended for 10 games at the start of August for violating the MLS substance abuse policy. The defender returned to action as a late-game substitute last Sunday in a 1-0 victory at San Jose and got the starting call Sunday.
“I was very happy to be able to score and very happy to be back with the team,” Torres said through an interpreter. “It is very hard to be out of playing for 10 games. But this is a demonstration that during that time that I wasn’t able to play, I was preparing myself and keeping myself in good shape. After those 10 games, I able to come back and play and make this very beautiful goal.”
Carlos Vela won the league’s Golden Boot award with a hat trick in LAFC’s 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday in the team’s final regular-season match. He finished with 34 goals to break the Major League Soccer single-season record of 31 set last year by Atlanta’s Josef Martinez.
LAFC, already the Supporters’ Shield winners, also set the league’s single-season record for points with 72, one better than the New York Red Bulls’ record last season.
LAFC also tied the MLS single-season record for goals with 85 this season, matching the 1998 LA Galaxy.
The Bob Bradley-led team finished atop the Western Conference for a first-round bye in the playoffs, which were set on Sunday when all 12 league matches were played simultaneously.
Four teams went into the day vying for the final two playoff sports in the West. The Portland Timbers defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in a win-and-in match, while Dallas routed Sporting Kansas City 6-0 to secure the seventh and final playoff spot.
In the West’s first-round matches, Seattle (2) hosts Dallas (5), RSL (3) hosts the Timbers (6) and Minnesota (4) hosts the Galaxy (5). The playoffs are set to open on Oct. 19.
In the Eastern Conference, NYC FC finished atop the standings for the first-round bye. Defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta (2) hosts New England (7), Philadelphia (3) hosts the Red Bulls (6) and Toronto (4) hosts D.C. United (5).
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