It’s preview time!

After a crazy few weeks of the playoffs, the MLS Cup final has been decided and it’s old foes coming back together. This Sunday at 3 pm EST will see the Seattle Sounders hosting Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final. First, let’s take a look back at the history between these two clubs.

2016

The 2016 MLS Cup finals had Toronto hosting Seattle in both the team’s first appearance in an MLS Cup final. Seattle outlasted Toronto and won the game on penalty kicks behind an outstanding game from Sounders’ keeper Stefan Frei.

2017

Fast forward a year later and Toronto FC is a completely different team. They smashed the single-season points record and were on their way to becoming the first MLS team to win the treble (MLS Cup, Domestic Cup, Supporters Shield). The only team standing in their way was the Seattle Sounders. Back at BMO Field for the second year in a row, Toronto made no mistake this time and capped off their record-breaking season by taking down Seattle 2-0.

2019

During the 2019 season, both Toronto and Seattle have fought hard to get to another final. Toronto looked like a lost team throughout the middle of the year and a lot of fans were clamoring for a coaching change. Thankfully, a late-season surge got Toronto into the playoffs, and thanks to some deadline day magic, got them a home playoff game and the rest, as they say, is history.

Seattle, on the other hand, had a pretty good season. They finished the year as the number 2 seed in a very good western conference. The reason no one was talking about them, was because everyone thought LAFC was a shoo-in to win the MLS Cup. LAFC not only won the Supporters Shield, but they broke the total points in a single season record as well. Well just like Seattle did to TFC in 2016, they went on the road to crush the title aspirations of LAFC and escaped LA with a 3-1 victory.

Now both teams collide again to play in another final. Seattle finally gets the home-field advantage as the past two finals were at Toronto’s own BMO Field. To get you ready for Sunday’s final, let’s take a look at a few key players from each team.

Players to watch

Michael Bradley
Toronto FC’s captain going into Sunday’s game will have all eyes on him. Not only does he secure another year on his contract with a win, he cements his legacy as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in MLS history. Look for the captain to control the midfield and control possession in order to stifle Seattle’s attack plans.

Chris Mavinga
Chris Mavinga has arguably been the best player for Toronto FC during their postseason run. His defense has been top-notch and he has made some game-saving tackles. Mavinga can very well be the player that influences the result of this match the most. As great as he is on defense, he can have the odd careless moment (see the final minutes of the LAFC game). If he can stay composed for the full game he will be one of the reasons why Toronto wins. However, another careless mistake and it’s the Sounders lifting the cup after the game.

Nico Lodeiro
Nico Lodeiro is one of the most lethal players in the MLS. He can change the script of the game at any time. Lodeiro’s ability to pick out the right pass at the right moment, or even to unleash a shot from far out, makes him one of the most dangerous players on the pitch come Sunday night. All of this, plus the damage he can create on the wings make him the man TFC needs to prepare for most heading into this game.

Jordan Morris
Toronto FC is known for having their fullbacks attack offensively as much as possible. This leads to them being vulnerable on the wings during a counter-attack. What team is one of the best counter-attacking teams in the league? That’s right, Seattle. Leading that attack is Nico Lodeiro (see above) and Jordan Morris. Jordan Morris will have the opportunity on Sunday night to dominate the wings on the counter-attack. Look for a lot of action between Lodeiro and Morris during the final. If they play well, all Toronto can do is hope that this next key player is up to the task.

Quentin Westburg vs Stefan Frei
This might be the matchup I am most looking forward to. Stefan Frei is not only a veteran MLS goalie, but he is also an ex-TFC goalie. An ex-TFC goalie that robbed them of an MLS Cup back in 2016 to be precise. Without Stefan Frei, it’s hard to argue that TFC doesn’t win that game. Stefan Frei is one of the best keepers in the league, and has been playing spectacular in these playoffs for Seattle.

The only goalie who has been better during this postseason has been TFC’s backstop Quentin Westburg. He is the main reason that Toronto is playing on Sunday. Full stop. Without Westburg, TFC loses every single game of this postseason, that’s how good he has been. His PK save in Atlanta was the turning point in that match. If the PK goes in I can’t see TFC overcoming that. What a save it was too. Quentin Westburg facing off against Josef Martinez, who is arguably the best pure striker in MLS history, and Westburg makes a massive save.

Either goalie can steal a win for their team and it will be interesting to see which keeper saves the day.

Prediction time

I don’t expect this game to be as exciting as their match earlier this season, which ended 3-2 for Seattle. I see this more of a hard-fought game, where a mistake on Seattle’s backend will lead to a Toronto victory.

TFC wins 2-1
Man of the match is Michael Bradley.

That’s my prediction, let me know what you guys think and let me know your predictions, either in the comments or tweet me them @nikomoniz. Also, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of The Soccer Report Podcast on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. This latest episode breaks down the final and gives an overview of Toronto FC’s season.

Enjoy the final!