2017 MLS Cup Final: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders
BMO Field – Saturday, December 9 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)
Match Odds: Toronto 4/5 – Draw 23/10 – Seattle 7/2
2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Preview
Here we go again! Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders. It’s the same MLS Cup Final matchup for the second-straight season. And just like last year, the two sides will battle it out at Toronto’s BMO Field to be crowned 2017 Major League Soccer champion.
For the past two seasons, Toronto and Seattle have been the league’s best two sides. So it makes sense that both have made back-to-back MLS Cup Finals. For Seattle, it’s about defending their cup. For Toronto, it’s about revenge.
Seattle Sounders celebrate winning the 2016 MLS Cup Final in Toronto. (Photo: Denise McCooey)
This will be just the third MLS Cup rematch in league history. The previous two occasions saw the same side win both finals – Houston Dynamo over New England in 2006 & 2007 and LA Galaxy over Houston Dynamo in 2011 & 2012. But the Seattle Sounders come into Saturday’s final as underdogs once again.
Toronto have had one of, if not the greatest, MLS seasons ever. They convincingly ran away with the Supporters’ Shield. They won the Canadian Championship. Now they just need to go one better than they did last year to become the first side to win a treble, which would surely guarantee the Toronto 2017 team’s status as ‘the greatest MLS side ever’.
They’ve not had an easy playoff route to this year’s showpiece event though. They narrowly edged past the Red Bulls on the away goals rule before beating Columbus 1-0 on aggregate after a nervy two-legged Eastern Conference Final.
But what matters more than anything for the hosts is that they have the chance to put last year’s miserable penalty shootout lost right. They wouldn’t have wanted any other MLS Cup opponent than the Sounders. Form tends to go out the window in these games so it’s all about Toronto handling the occasion.
The Seattle Sounders didn’t have the most impressive of regular season campaigns but did come good when it mattered most once again: Down the stretch. They’ve kept momentum going – just as they did last year – and have been exceptional in the playoffs.
A 2-0 aggregate win over Vancouver was followed up by a 5-0 aggregate win over Houston to claim the Western Conference Championship for the second successive year. They have added well to the squad that won last year’s final. The likes of Will Bruin and Victor Rodriguez will be looking to continue their impressive form in Saturday’s showdown.
But it’s the return of Clint Dempsey that’s making all the headlines. The US soccer legend was ruled out of last year’s run to glory with a heart problem that was eventually cleared. Now he’s back and hungry to be a part of his team’s success.
Toronto FC have their own weapons. Like last year, the focus will be on Designated Players Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. But Victor Vazquez has been incredibly good in his debut campaign and will look to provide the spark that was missing in last year’s final.
These two sides have only met once since last year’s showpiece event. That came back in May as Toronto ran out 1-0 winners at CenturyLink Field, courtesy of an early Altidore penalty. But Toronto haven’t recorded a home win over the Sounders for over seven years, with their last victory coming back in April 2010.
2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Team News
Toronto FC’s only injury concern ahead of Saturday’s final is Jozy Altidore. The striker was hurt in the second-half of the Conference Final win over Columbus but fought on to score the decisive goal. He won’t let an ankle problem keep him out of a game like this either.
Seattle Sounders will definitely be without Brad Evans as the defender is still sidelined with that back problem. Osvaldo Alonso has also been ruled out just a couple of days before the final in what is a blow for the defending champions. However, they’ve coped well without him over the past three months and will hope to continue.
2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Key Points
Toronto FC’s last five: D/W/L/D/W
Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/D/W/W/W
Key Stat: Shutout – The Sounders have kept up their reputation of being almost impossible to breakdown in playoff football. They’ve kept four-straight clean sheets in this year’s playoffs and haven’t conceded in the postseason in six consecutive games, including last year’s final win at Toronto.
Key Player: Victor Vazquez – Toronto’s Spanish playmaker has enjoyed a fine debut season in MLS and he could be the man to prove the difference. He wasn’t a part of last year’s final but likes to play between the lines and could exploit the Sounders defence, who will have Altidore and Giovinco to contend with. In a game that’s expected to be tight, Vazquez could be the man to make the difference.
2017 MLS Cup Final – Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction
Toronto FC 1-1* Seattle Sounders – This is surely going to be one of the most intriguing finals in recent years, not least because it’s a rematch in which the defending champions remain underdogs. Toronto are expected to win, but it was the same case last season. The Sounders enjoy playing with house money, so to speak, and will be looking forward to trying to cause another major upset and defend their title. Goals will surely be on offer this time, but don’t be surprised to see this one go beyond the 90 minutes again. And if it does, it’s hard to look past the Sounders…