SEATTLE (AP) — 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.”
Added Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer: “I’m happy for him. Roman is a very accomplished player on many different levels of this sport. He was able to overcome the whole suspension thing, and I’m just so proud he was able to keep himself in shape and kept believing in himself. He was a big part of this game tonight because he scored, but he also played very well defensively.”
Minnesota nearly tied it in the 40th minute. Ethan Finlay picked up an errant pass by Brad Smith and streaked toward the goal, one-on-one against goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Finlay’s shot from directly behind the penalty spot banged off the left post and bounced away.
In the 74th minute, Finlay sent a dangerous cross through the 6-yard box, but it zipped past Mason Toye before he could get a foot to it.
“I don’t think we did enough with our possession, especially in the final third,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “The second half, it was virtually played in their half of the field. When you have that much possession and have that many bodies forward, for us not to create an awful lot was disappointing. I thought we were going to score all day and I thought we were going to catch them on the break. But it wasn’t to be.”
The game in front of 47,297 fans marked the return of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso to CenturyLink Field. An original Sounder when the team joined MLS in 2009, Alonso played for 10 years in Seattle in a club-record 267 games.
Alonso signed with Minnesota as a free agent in January. He was presented with a painting prior kickoff and was cheered loudly when he was introduced in the starting lineup.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)