Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders – Saturday, December 9, 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET – BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wait! Don’t leave! It’s not a deja vu, you have come to the right place. Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders are meeting for the second season in a row with the MLS Cup once again at stake. Even though 2017 was a breath of fresh air for the Major League Soccer fanatic, the two best teams are still the same, this time with the promise of a much more heated affair especially with the added feeling of a rematch.
Unlike European football where the same consolidated blocks have for long-established hegemonies, the odds of having a repeated final are quite low. The league’s financial socialism and equality allows for different teams to surprise every season. Even though some might believe this only helps to pull the most potential projects downwards, the purpose of a soccer league in the United States is certainly particular, and the idea of becoming a football superpower continues to be relegated, like an old 1996 fad some would rather forget. The truth is that a high percentage of the MLS fan base is disappointed with this final.
Moving away from the marketable side of life, a repeated final signals the consolidation of two dominant MLS franchises. Similar to what Los Angeles Galaxy were for years, both Toronto and Seattle have demonstrated that MLS franchises are capable of setting their minds to soccer development. The league has shown signs of considerable growth during these two decades, but it is far from where it could be. Hence, the potential of this final does not match the reality of the American game at all. Actually, outside of Major League Soccer’s bubble of Twitter hashtags, complicated transfer system and weird calendar, things are far from promising. Nevertheless, at BMO Field the show must go on, and both Toronto and Seattle will deliver a great clash, leaving the country’s football problems for later and hopefully inspiring the rest of the league to try luck in becoming competitive while staying lucrative.
Seattle are much stronger this year. Brian Schmetzer has polished and perfected what Sigi Schmid started almost ten years ago. He gave the franchise a winning mentality and especially won the MLS Cup, something the soccer result fundamentalist is always pleased to see. Because, after all, results are a crucial part of football. It might not have been pretty, but the 2016 MLS Cup was a reward MLS owed Seattle for its perseverance and contribution with years of good football and one of the best projects since its creation. This year with great new additions such as Víctor Rodríguez and Gustav Svensson, Seattle took a step up in the quality of its men, longing to repeat the feat.
Speaking of good projects we have Toronto. Greg Vanney’s men played under an elegant 3-5-2 and revolutionised the league when they signed Sebastian Giovinco changing the face of the MLS worldwide. The Canadians have assembled themselves to become an undisputed force, yet they stumbled at the most crucial moment. Many thoughts come to my head if I picture Toronto losing again. Would the franchise be considered a failure should it fail to achieve immediate success? Or would it be stigmatised like the New York Red Bulls who, despite being one of the most contributing soccer projects, always end up seeing the doors of the MLS Cup title being cruelly shut before their faces. Toronto have not been the dominant side they were all 2017 during the playoffs; it is the superior quality of their attackers what stands out the most. They can win matches on their own. If you don’t agree with me, I will only remind you that Jozy Altidore refused to be substituted while injured and scored the goal that got his team in this final only minutes later.
Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders – Players to look out for:
Sebastian Giovinco #10 – Toronto FC
Giovinco leading Toronto to the MLS Cup would mean a successful outcome to the revolution the Canadian franchise proposed when they brought him. The first “young” DP, erasing the nickname “retirement league” from the name of MLS forever. Last time around his performance was rather questionable, for he did not show the courage he is known for, the courage that he used to overcome a flawed European career in the shadow of others and reinvent it by trusting in this project. Now it’s his chance, again.
Clint Dempsey #2 – Seattle Sounders FC
Having missed last year’s final due to the heart problem that kept us all worried, Clint Dempsey is back and determined to make an impact in the final. The Deuce has not been the luckiest of players regarding the grand final, for he lost it on two opportunities (2005 and 2006) and missed the entire playoff instances due to his heart problem including the final in 2016. As he spoke to the league’s media, winning the cup is his primary objective. Considering that most of his allies on the field will be back, it would not be strange if we witnessed another Seattle victory, this time orchestrated by Dempsey himself.
Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders FC – Match stats:
- The finalists have only met once this regular season, it was a Toronto victory by a 1-goal margin
- There have been 2 pairs of repeated finals in succession in the MLS era: Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution (2006/07) and LA Galaxy vs Houston Dynamo (2011/12).
- Seattle could become the fourth team to be crowned back-to-back champions after DC United (1996/97), Houston Dynamo (2005/06) and LA Galaxy (2011/12)
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders 1-2
Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders FC – Possible lineups
Bono – Mavinga, Moor, Zavaleta – Morrow, Vazquez, Bradley, Delgado, Beitashour – Giovinco, Altidore
Coach: Greg Vanney
Seattle Sounders FC
Frei – Tolo, Marshall, Torres, Leerdam – Svensson, Roldan – Jones, Dempsey, Lodeiro – Bruin
Coach: Brian Schmetzer
Nicolás Miremont is a born and raised Boca Juniors fan, but his heart has a special place for Manchester United, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Dynamo Kiev. Miremont loves to support the underdogs. Miremont enjoys watching smaller competitions especially those from Eastern Europe, but also his native Argentina. Follow him on Twitter @Miremont_Nico