TORONTO – If Eriq Zavaleta puts in a man-of-the-match performance or scores the winning goal in Saturday’s MLS Cup final, the Seattle Sounders will only have themselves to blame.

A defender and key starter for Toronto FC over the past two seasons, Zavaleta admits he learned how to be a winner with the Sounders before being traded to the Reds and that his brief time in Seattle set him up for success in Toronto.

Zavaleta, 25, was selected 10th overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, coincidentally with a pick the Sounders acquired in a trade with TFC earlier in the day. It was a special moment for the defender because of a personal connection to Seattle’s Sigi Schmid, who coached his father, Carlos, at UCLA — to say nothing of the fact that the Sounders were an ambitious team with championship aspirations who played before large home crowds.

But Zavaleta, a promising prospect out of the University of Indiana, ended up making just five appearances for the Sounders. Twice he was sent out on loan to the now-defunct Chivas USA, and to the San Antonio Scorpions of the second-tier NASL. After his loan stint with Chivas ended following the …read more


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