Saunders scored twice late, Minnesota United 3-2 | K.L.R.T.

Saunders scored twice late, Minnesota United 3-2 |  K.L.R.T.

Seattle Saunders forward Will Bruin (17) scored in Seattle on Monday, December 7, 2020, in the second half of the MLS Playoffs Western Conference Final Football match against Minnesota United. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Seattle (AP) – The Seattle Saunders were awarded the Western Conference Championship Trophy for the fourth time in five years when confetti flew in front of an empty stadium and fireworks exploded.

Just minutes before, the Sounders appeared on the verge of dropping a claim claiming to be defending the MLS Cup champions.

“I do not know how we did it. I can tell you, I do not know how we did it,” said Seattle coach Brian Schmeitzer.

M.L.S. Cup final.

He shocked Seattle three times in the final 15 minutes of regulation and stoppage time to shock Minnesota and earn a spot in the league championship game for the fourth time in five seasons.

The team will travel to Columbus, Seattle, to face the crew in the MLS Cup final on Saturday. The second team to reach the final four times in five seasons in Seattle MLS history joined DC United in the first seasons of the league.

“God I wish our fans had been in that arena,” Schmeitzer said. “I want to be a fan. It was incredible. In the history of our Saunders, this will always be one of the best games. ”

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Will Bruyne scored in the 75th minute to make Seattle 2-1, setting the stage for wild final moments when the Sounders hit a corner kick twice. Raul Ruidiaz had a lucky bounce fall on his feet just before the end of the 90th minute when goalkeeper Dane Saint Clare was knocked out to pull the Sounders even 2-2.

Seattle continued to push for a winner and almost got it from Ruidiaz, only to see his shot hit the outside of the post. But Svensson advanced by kicking the final corner above the Minnesota defenders.

Svensson said he had tested positive for Kovit-19 after returning from international duty with Sweden last month and that was why he was not available for Seattle’s first two playoff wins. Svensson said he was asymptomatic.

“I don’t want to be seen on TV with me this year,” Svensson said. “I’m very happy now to be helping my teammates play another game.”

Seattle will attempt their first re-emergence champions at the MLS after the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011-12.

As a teenager, Upstart Loons will be on their way to Columbus to play in the first final of Minnesota’s fourth MLS season. Minnesota had low scoring chances, but took advantage of what they got, taking the lead of Emanuel Reinoso’s free kick from 30 yards in the first half. Defender Bakai Dipasi scored on a header from an assist from Rhinoso midway in the second half, and Looney appeared for the final.

“The best way to describe it this time around, to be honest, is a shell shock,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said.

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Renault continued to pose as one of the brightest young stars in the league following his departure to join Lunes from Boca Juniors in Argentina in September. The Rhinoceros had a part in Minnesota’s final 11 goals this season, scoring or assisting each of them.

“We bowed. We didn’t win the majority of the game, ”said Ethan Finley of Minnesota. “I’m not sick to my stomach, frankly. Everyone in the locker room is sick.”

But Seattle’s late replacements made a huge difference. Bruin came on and scored immediately and the late addition of Brad Smith and Svensson was crucial.

This is the second time in team history that two different substitutes have scored for the Sounders. Seattle has now won 14 straight playoff games.

“Credit to those individuals who are willing to come in and make a difference and play for their team,” Schmeitzer said.

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More AP Football: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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