The Sounders made only 394 passes to Toronto’s 524. They had a dismal 36.5 percent possession rate in the opening half, eventually finishing at 43 percent.

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TORONTO – Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer opted for a veteran-laden lineup Saturday, sending rookie Nouhou to the bench and bumping Joevin Jones to his regular left-back spot so midfielder Victor Rodriguez could be inserted up along the left wing.

But the move generated next to no offense. Toronto FC shut down Rodriguez and playmaking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro to the point where they were nonfactors. In fact, the Sounders spent the first half making single-touch passes and turning the ball over only seconds after gaining possession.

“We put our best attacking lineup out there,’’ Schmetzer said afterward. “But we weren’t able to keep the ball in any part of the game. I think some of the patience — even in the second half, when we did get the ball up the field — wasn’t great. That was not one of our stellar performances.’’

The Sounders made only 394 passes to Toronto’s 524. They had a dismal 36.5 percent possession rate in the opening half, eventually finishing at 43 percent.

All postseason, Schmetzer had used Nouhou at left back and pushed Jones up along the wing. The results had seen the Sounders outscore opponents a combined 8-0 the past three playoff matches.

Rodriguez had been slowed by injury for most of it. Then, a Román Torres red card opened a lineup spot for Rodriguez to play on the right wing in the second leg of the Western Conference final against Houston.

But with Torres back for Saturday’s final, Schmetzer had a decision to make and figured his team was better off with the inexperienced Nouhou on the bench.

Nouhou finally got into the game in the first minute of stoppage time, subbing for Jones.

Clean match

There were no cautions issued to either side until the very end of the match, when Toronto FC midfielder Victor Vazquez got booked for excessive celebration after his clinching second goal off a rebound in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Vazquez ripped off his jersey and waved to the roaring crowd as the championship celebration got underway in earnest.

Referee Alan Chapman ruled that Vazquez’s removal of his jersey delayed the ensuing resumption of play.

Toronto greatest team ever?

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney didn’t mince words postgame about where his team rates among the league’s all-time squads.

“I’m the first one to say I think it’s the greatest team ever,’’ Vanney said. “That will probably be a debate and a lot of people will want to say that previous teams, or other teams were (better). But nobody has accomplished what this team has accomplished. We won obviously every championship along the way, set a points record  — the quality and the way this group went about its business over the course of the season.

“And we’re not done yet,’’ he said.

That much is true, as Toronto FC looks as if it might be a lock to return to next year’s final.

For now, its 2017 campaign saw it set a regular-season record by going 20-5-9 to win the Supporters’ Shield. It also won a Voyageurs Cup — the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Open Cup — before adding its first league championship Saturday.

Faster start

Cristian Roldan said there’s an easy way for the Sounders to improve their chances of returning to the MLS Cup a third straight time next season.

“We need to do well during the season, during the beginning of the season,’’ he said, “to get home-field advantage. Obviously, it’s tough to come out to Toronto and win two times in a row.’’

The Sounders were a different team after the July acquisition of right back Kelvin Leerdam and midfielder Rodriguez. They went 8-2-5 over their final 13 regular-season games and 11-3-6 including playoffs — a pace that might have enabled them to keep pace with Toronto FC for a Supporters’ Shield had they played that way a full campaign.