• MLWA 7

Sounders beat Los Angeles in West Division Conference, Heading to the MLS Cup for the 3rd time

- Los Angeles, CA (AP)

Nicolás Lodeiro scored a goal and assisted on two more by Raúl Ruidíaz, and the Seattle Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup final for the third time in four years with a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles FC on Tuesday night.

Ruidíaz and Lodeiro scored four minutes apart in the first half to claim the lead for the Sounders, who upset the Supporters' Shield-winning top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a superb big-game performance. Seattle also beat 2-year-old LAFC for the first time in five meetings.

Eduard Atuesta scored in the opening minutes on a free kick for LAFC, which reached the MLS records for points, goals and goal differential during arguably the best regular season in league history. LAFC then beat the crosstown LA Galaxy 5-3 last Thursday for its first playoff victory.

But the Sounders have years of playoff experience that LAFC can't match, and their leaders led them back to the one-game league final. Seattle won the league title in 2016 and lost to Toronto FC in 2017.

Seattle will either host Toronto or visit defending champion Atlanta United for the MLS Cup final next Sunday, Nov. 10. The Eastern Conference finalists meet Wednesday night.

Lodeiro followed up his outstanding performance against Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinal with another dominant offensive game. The 30-year-old Uruguayan set up Ruidíaz's goal and then scored his own in a blistering sequenc