2016 MLS Cup Lodeiro Bradley 2017-05-01
USA Today Sports

Seattle Sounders host familiar foe Toronto FC in MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field

For the third time in the past four seasons, the Seattle Sounders will face Toronto FC in MLS Cup. This time it’s on our turf, with both of the previous meetings held at BMO Field in Toronto. The Rave Green and the Reds’ traversed similar paths to the league’s championship match, overcoming the odds to set up a decisive third round in this rivalry.

How Seattle Got Here

Seattle finished the 2019 MLS regular season as the No. 2 seed in the West, rounding out the final weeks of competition with massive wins over the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, San Jose Earthquakes and Minnesota United.

The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, thus far, have been a wild ride. Seattle outlasted FC Dallas in a chaotic Round One contest, with Jordan Morris bagging the club’s first-ever postseason hat trick as the Rave Green picked up a 4-3 win in extra time. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Sounders put on a counter-attacking clinic, defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at CenturyLink Field behind goals from Gustav Svensson and Nicolás Lodeiro.

Facing a LAFC side billed as the greatest team in MLS history in the Western Conference Final, the Sounders devised and executed their tactics to perfection. Seattle congested central midfield to disrupt the Black & Gold’s rhythm and displayed lethal efficiency in transition.  Ruidíaz bagged a brace and Lodeiro notched his seventh career postseason goal as the Sounders advanced to their third MLS Cup.

How Toronto Got Here

Sparked by midseason acquisitions of Alejandro Pozuelo and Omar Gonzalez, Toronto finished the regular season on a ten-match unbeaten streak, securing the No. 4 seed in the East.

Protecting a 1-0 lead against D.C. United in Round One, Toronto was forced into extra time as the visitors found an equalizer in second-half stoppage time. Undeterred by the setback, TFC’s offense exploded for four more goals as they finished 5-1 winners. In the Semifinal round, the Reds capitalized on two crucial errors from New York City FC defenders to escape with a 2-1 win.

Like Seattle, Toronto went on the road as underdogs in the Eastern Conference Final, as they squared off against the reigning MLS Cup champion, Atlanta United. The hosts took the lead in the fourth minute and had a chance to double their advantage six minutes later, but Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg turned aside Josef Martinez’s penalty kick. The 2017 MLS Cup champs equalized through Nicolas Benezet. Substitute Nick DeLeon nabbed the eventual winner in the 78th minute with a wonder-strike that picked out the top corner.

Shared History

There’s plenty of enmity between these two clubs after facing off in consecutive MLS Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017. Courtesy of some logic-defying goalkeeping from Stefan Frei – it’s called ‘The Save’ for a reason – the Sounders lifted the Cup in 2016. TFC won the rematch the next season, taking the lead in the second half through Jozy Altidore before adding a second late in stoppage time.

Two of the league’s most successful, ambitious clubs, Seattle and Toronto have enjoyed some thrilling bouts during the regular season, as well. During a period in which the Sounders were struggling for results in 2018, a heavily rotated side went on the road and beat the Reds 2-1. Earlier this year, Seattle picked up a 3-2 win over TFC at CenturyLink Field on April 13 behind a Will Bruin brace and thunderous goal from Cristian Roldan.

Seattle’s roster boasts plenty of players with experience this series, with the likes of Román Torres, Joevin Jones, Morris, Lodeiro, Roldan and Frei having played in both finals.

Tickets for MLS Cup will go on sale Friday, November 1 at 10:00 a.m. PT.

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