As the Major League Soccer season begins to wind down, much anticipation is building on the league’s final match of the season. In a scenario that few would have predicted, the Columbus Crew will be hosting Seattle Sounders for the league’s most prized possession, the MLS Cup.
While the country’s first soccer specific stadium MAPFRE Stadium will get its storybook ending by hosting its last possible MLS Cup Final because of the new Crew Stadium set to open its doors in the summer of 2021, the game hosted will be nothing short of exhilarating. What would the best way to raise anticipations ahead of the fixture? By hosting a simulated version on FIFA 21.
Despite EA unable to secure the rights to the home of Saturday’s final, the virtual palm trees and sellout crowd of Dignity Health Sports Park hosted quite the simulated finale. How did the match play out? Let’s take a look.
Fortunately for animated fans, a virtual world with COVID-19 doesn’t exist so there is no social distancing necessary. Each team exited the tunnel in traditional fashion, side-by-side. Columbus sported their all-black kits with Seattle wearing their traditional primary green with blue shorts.
The kickoff began with the Black & Gold taking possession in the opening minutes before midfielder Aidan Morris conceded a giveaway. That allowed Seattle to knock on the door in the opening minutes before getting foiled by goalkeeper Eloy Room, who’s anticipated to start for the first time this postseason.
Out of seemingly nowhere in the 10th minute, forward Gyasi Zardes found himself on a breakaway. After a lobbed through-ball to winger Luis Diaz, he found Lucas Zelarayan who laid a ball of to the Crew talisman who struck the post and nearly gave Columbus an early lead.
In the 31st minute, Zelarayan played a one-time pass to Diaz who one-time crossed the ball to Zardes who broke the deadlock.
Seattle attempted to respond and get back on level terms before the end of the first half and they nearly did and if not for two spectacular saves by Eloy Room, Seattle would have tied the game. The Curacaoan denied Joevin Jones and Nicolas Lodeiro twice in the span of 20 seconds to keep the game in favor of Columbus.
A second goal would be scored, but not for Seattle. In the 45th minute after the Sounders ensuing corner, Columbus added a second goal by way of Zelarayan. A breakaway by Diaz down the right flank crossed a ball beautifully to the right foot of the Argentinian who stroked the ball past Stefan Frei with ease.
The second half started with Seattle trying desperately to get themselves back into the match but early attempts proved unsuccessful. After a takedown on Morris in the opposing box in the 63rd minute, a questionable penalty was awarded but Zardes stepped up and hit it down the middle to get the Crew their third goal of the match.
After chances for both teams back and forth, Seattle were unable to get on the board and Columbus saw out the result for a 3-0 victory against the defending MLS Cup Champions. If FIFA 21 surely is as real as some say, it will have the Black & Gold bringing home their second-ever MLS Cup.
Watch the highlights from the match in the video below.