Nicolas Lodeiro scored one and assisted two as Seattle Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup final for the third time in four years with a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles FC.
Lodeiro and Ral Ruidiaz 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 play-offs with a superb performance.
LAFC went ahead in the 17th minute when Eduard Atuesta curled a beautiful free-kick into the corner from outside the box. The Colombian midfielder's goal was only his second since July, but played a key role as his side broke MLS records for points, goals and goal difference during arguably the best regular season in league history.
But the Sounders have years of play-off experience, and Loderio helped lead them back to the MLS Cup final, which they won in 2016 and lost to Toronto FC in 2017, as they equalised five minutes later. Lodeiro broke down LAFC's defense and set up a move and a goal by Ruidiaz, who led the Sounders with 11 goals this season.
LAFC then gave too much space in front of goal to Lodeiro, and the Sounders captain slipped a low shot into Miller's left corner.
Seattle will either host Toronto or visit defending champions Atlanta United for the MLS Cup final on November 10. The Eastern Conference finalists meet Wednesday night, which you can watch live on Sky Sports.
Analysis: Seattle punish LAFC tactics
Three talking points from NBC's Andy Edwards:
1. Time to recognise Ruidiaz among elites
Josef Martinez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have each received plenty of plaudits for their prolific goal-scoring records as center-forwards, but Ruidiaz should be mentioned in the same breath as some of the best to ever do it in MLS. He's not even two seasons into his time in Seattle, but the Peru international has displayed a ruthless nose for goal while also contributing to the Sounders' attack in ways Martinez and Ibrahimovic rarely do.
For Lodeiro's goal, you'll see Joevin Jones picking up the assist and Lodeiro finishing with pinpoint precision. But what you won't see is Ruidiaz's turn out of trouble on the other side of midfield and his subsequent dribbling into the final third before laying the ball off to Jones. The Sounders defence was set up to absorb lots of pressure, but providing them these moments of respite, let alone getting the goal, were so important to Brian Schmetzer's gameplan.
2. LAFC start slow again and this time, they never recovered
LAFC needed a good 10 minutes to wake up before putting five past the LA Galaxy last week. Again on Tuesday, Bob Bradley's side started sluggishly and found themselves on the back foot for the opening 15 minutes. Then, almost as if on cue, the LAFC sprang to life with Atuesta's stunning free-kick.
Only this time, unlike when they faced Galaxy, LAFC's period of control was short-lived. Seattle, a group that's been through the rigours of the play-offs together, stuck to their low defensive block, soaked up the pressure in low-leverage areas of the field before hitting LAFC on the counter-attack at every opportunity. It paid immediate dividends.
LAFC's greatest strengths lie in their forward and midfield lines, which makes it hugely important to pick the right pass immediately after winning the ball back. Fortunately for Seattle, Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson are two of the smartest players in the league and they make the right decision nine times out of 10. This gives the likes of Ruidiaz, Lodeiro and Jordan Morris a few extra looks every game. Once you bypass the first wave of pressure from the LAFC midfield, their defence is highly suspect.
3. Rossi moved to the left too late
For 45 minutes, Diego Rossi - and Carlos Vela, to a large extent - were anonymous, inconsequential figures. Brad Smith customarily tore up and down the left side of Seattle's attack, pinning Rossi deeper and deeper as the first half wore on. Bradley switched the Uruguayan to the other side of the field at half-time, and his impact was immediate.
The knock-on effect with Vela is obvious, as each of LAFC's attacking stars operates best when linking directly or indirectly with one another. Whether playing on the right or through the middle, Rossi frees up Vela, either with their combined movement and passing or the attention he commands as a goal threat himself.
Schmetzer got his tactics spot-on, while Bradley took a thoroughly curious decision to deviate from something that worked to devastating effect for seven months.
How the teams reacted
Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer: "We never stopped believing we could win. We found a way to score the equaliser, and I think the second goal stunned LAFC a little bit. They were going, 'OK, what's going on here? This shouldn't happen.'"
"We wanted to push LAFC into areas where they were less effective. That was the entire game plan, just to see if we could slow down their attack. And then on the attacking side, we knew we could create chances against this team. They take many risks when they defend or counter-press. Our guys were well coached. They did exactly what we needed to do to get into their half of the field."
Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan: "The many times that we've been to MLS Cup now has been off grit, has been off not playing pretty. It's been off winning in different ways. Today we won in a different way. We locked down defense. We scored on our few opportunities.
"In other games, maybe we would play pretty. But we knew it was going to be a tough opponent away from home. We adjusted accordingly. Sometimes we would press. Sometimes we would sit back. Overall, it was just a fantastic performance."
LAFC forward Carlos Vela: "Nobody expected this end for our season, but we know in the play-offs, it's one game, and if they make better plays than you, you're out. In the end, I think we have to be proud with how we've done all year, and we have to learn. We have just two years as a club. We have things to improve."