Toronto vs Seattle Sounders – Saturday 4pm PT/7pm ET (Europe Sunday 1:00 GMT/2:00 CET) BMO Field – Toronto.
No matter who wins the MLS Cup Final, Toronto vs Seattle Sounders, history will be made on Saturday night on Toronto’s BMO Field, as neither club have ever won the championship.
Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Major League Soccer, the champion of the league could be Canadian. In fact, Toronto will go into the final, as the favourites over Seattle.
Toronto finished the regular season in third place with 53 points behind the two New York based clubs, Red Bull (57 points), and City (54 points), in the Eastern Conference. In fact, Toronto flirted with first place in the Conference, but eleven draws in 34 games were too many, and they had to concede top spot in the conference to New York Red Bulls.
Now that could have been their undoing, but an amazing run in the playoffs meant that they overcame New York City FC 7-0 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and then went on to eliminate their Canadian rivals, Montreal Impact, in a dramatic Eastern Conference Final (read the match report here).
Seattle, on the other hand, had a rocky season that, in July, culminated in the firing of long term head coach Sigi Schmid. Then in August, Sounders’ superstar Clint Dempsey was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, which effectively ended his season, and could even threaten his career.
In fact, those two events alone could have seriously derailed the season for the Sounders. But the arrival of the Uruguayan Nicolás Lodeiro, and the fact that young USA star Jordan Morris was able to step up his game, meant that new head coach, Brian Schmetzer, could compensate for the lose of his star player.
Morris and Lodeiro often combined in the second half of the season, as Seattle stormed up the standings to finish fourth in the Western Conference regular season, behind FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, and LA Galaxy. The fourth place finish meant that Seattle always had to play the second leg away from home.
Perhaps the fact that Seattle had to travel for all their decisive matches in the playoffs will give the Sounders a small advantage, as they head to Toronto.
But, in reality, it is hard to look beyond Toronto’s star-studded lineup for the final, as the Reds forward line with Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco is impossible to stop at the best of times. Experienced midfield centred Designated Player Michael Bradley will further ensure that the squad will be able to keep it together no matter what the adversity.
This was well demonstrated in Toronto’s comeback win against Montreal in the Eastern Conference Final, is likely again to be a factor as Toronto are poised to win their first MLS Cup.
Toronto vs Seattle Sounders – Players to look out for:
It is hard to look beyond Sebastian Giovinco in this category. The tiny Italian, he is just 162cm tall, has been dubbed the Atomic Ant by Toronto fans. His play, at times, is electric, and his numbers in Major League Soccer are astounding (see below). But playing in the MLS has meant that Giovinco consistently has been overlooked by Italy’s national team coach Gian Piero Ventura. It is true that MLS does not have the standard of any of Europe’s top ten leagues, but to put up the numbers that Giovinco puts up on a regular basis, including in the playoffs, is incredible, and should make him a candidate for a call-up.
For Seattle, all the attention will be on their Uruguayan star forward Nicolás Lodeiro, who the club signed from Boca Juniors for $6 million. The transfer was famously negotiated with the help of Uruguay’s star forward, Luis Suárez, who acted as a translator between Lodeiro, and Seattle’s management. On the pitch, Lodeiro has been a standout player for the Sounders, and he was voted 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year by MLS club managements, the media, and players of the league.
Toronto vs Seattle Sounders – Match Stats
- Sebastian Giovinco scored 17 goals, and gave 15 assists in 28 regular season games.
- Jozy Altidore has scored in every single MLS Cup Playoff game this season.
- The MLS Cup Final in Toronto sold out in less than 3 minutes.
- The two teams only met once this season: a 1-1 draw on July 2 in Toronto.
- The city of Toronto has not won a significant sporting title in 23 years.
- This is the first MLS Cup Final for both sides.
FutebolCidade’s Prediction: Toronto vs Seattle Sounders 2-0
Irwin – Moor, Hagglund, Zavaleta – Morrow, Bradley, Johnson, Cooper, Beitashour – Altidore, Giovinco
Manager: Greg Vanney
Frei – Jones, Marshall, Torres, Mears – Roldán, Lodeiro, Alonso – Ivanschitz, Nelson Valdez, Morris
Manager: Brian Schmetzer