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FT: MLS Cup 2019: Toronto FC 1-3 Seattle Sounders — Game Thread

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Everything you need to know to get you set for the 2019 MLS Cup in Seattle

MLS: MLS Cup-Toronto FC vs Seattle FC
Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) kicks the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) in the first half during the MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field.
(Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports)

Game Thread

90+3— Goal! Jozy Altidore! 3-1 Seattle. Some consolation for the Reds?

90’ — GOAL! 3-0 Seattle. Ruidiaz seals it for the visitors.

86’ — Toronto still throwing everything they have at Seattle right now. You can tell they were not satisfied with this performance.

84’ — Disappointing right now, but the match isn’t over. TFC were playing with house money tonight, but this one still stings.

76’ — GOAL! 2-0 Seattle. Too much room. Rodriguez buries.

74’— Great save by Quentin Westberg after Omar Gonzalez’s clearance attempt is directed towards his goal. Chris Mavinga limps off now for TFC.

72’ — Seattle putting two defenders on Altidore in the box at all times. Need to find a way to pull at least one of those defenders off the TFC poacher before getting the ball into him.

68’ — Just over 20 minutes for Altidore to make his mark. Let’s see it.

65’ — Jozy Altidore getting ready to come on for TFC. Expect to see Benezet make way.

62’ — Nick DeLeon comes on for Tsubasa Endoh. First sub for Toronto FC.

58’ — GOAL! Seattle. 1-0. A deflection finds its way past Quentin Westberg.

55’ — Jozy Altidore warming up for Toronto FC.

54’ — First real bit of Alejandro Pozuelo magic, as he, well, I can’t even really explain it. He somehow manages to keep the ball, while on the ground, while surrounded by four Seattle Sounders players. If he steps up in this second half... watch out.

50’ — Endoh hasn’t been his best this match. Have to wonder if he’s the first one to make way. Toronto FC starting the second half right where they left off in the first.

46’ — We’re back. No subs for either team to start the second half.

HT: 0-0 — A dominant half for Toronto FC. How long until we see Jozy Altidore?

45’ — MVP! MVP! Quentin Westberg comes up HUGE for Toronto FC once again, as Ruidiaz finds himself in one-on-one with the TFC GK, but Westberg turns him away. Another massive stop in a massive game for the Reds No. 1.

41’ — Toronto FC showed up for a battle this afternoon. They need someone to get on the end of all of these crosses.

40’ — That’s the problem with the false 9... you can create but you’re lacking that target poacher to knock in goals... Jozy?

37’ — ELASTICO MEG! No end product, but TFC are putting together some nice movements up top. Fans are into this one here at the Rec Room.

36’ — Nope. Poz’s cross is cleared easily by Seattle, but the Reds recover to find Benezet whose strike is easily saved by Frei.

35’ — Creative play from TFC, some tight touches, leads to a FK for the Reds from about 29 yards out. Can they test Frei?

34’ — Bradley with a bone-crunching tackle in the TFC box. He’s made a couple of crucial defensive stops — along with Omar Gonzalez, who has also been terrific in his first match since Oct. 6.

31’ — Michael Bradley hustles back to block a cross that could’ve found Ruidiaz. TOO MANY SLOPPY MISTAKES from TFC.

29’ — Toronto struggling to connect on that final pass. The ideas are there, but the execution is just a little off right now. Altidore’s presence changes this match dramatically...

21’— Best chance of the match so far, as the Torres gets loose in the box off a Sounders’ corner, but puts his half volley over the net. TFC still looking like the better team early on, but they need to tighten up. Too many sloppy mistakes.

19’ — Dangerous long throw from Seattle eventually leads to an opportunity for Ruidiaz. He heads the ball well over the net, though.

15’ — Torres returning the favour, going through the back of Pozuelo on the halfway line. The TFC DP did not like that challenge... to say the least.

11’ — ONE MORE PASS! Great chance for the Reds after some awesome link-up play, but Frei saves Jonathan Osorio’s strike from the top of the box. The midfielder may have had Benezet open on his left. Regardless, TFC looking by far the more dangerous side through the first 10~ minutes.

9’— You need to be wary of those counter attacks though... burned the Reds in Atlanta last time out. Almost hurt them again there, but Quentin Westberg makes a comfortable save.

8’ — Toronto FC dominating in the middle of the park so far — always first to the second ball. Let’s see if the Reds can capitalize.

6’ — Omar Gonzalez letting the Sounders’ strikers know he’s there early. They’ll be checking their shoulders next time.

5’ — Both teams showing a bit of nerves early on. Let’s see who can settle in first.

1’ — We’re off! MLS Cup Final 2019...

3:05 p.m. — TFC chants break out at the Rec Room and at CenturyLink! Let’s go #TFCLive!

3:02 p.m — Michael Bradley looks a bit too happy today... which would worry me if I were a Seattle Sounder. National Anthems.

2:58 p.m. — TFC Legend... Danny Dichio appearance.

2:55 p.m. — Captain Michael Bradley leads the huddle for Toronto FC in his 200th — and potentially final — game as a member of the club. You can’t write this kind of stuff. He’s a $6.5 million dollar man if he leads his team to victory today.

2:54 p.m. — 70,000 fans at CenturyLink Field... and trust me when I say, Toronto FC fans showed up. Buzzing.

2:41 p.m. — I’m personally happy with Toronto FC’s decision to start Omar Gonzalez over Laurent Ciman.... what do y’all think?

2:35 p.m.— Jozy Altidore warming up. You love to see it.

2:31 p.m. — Mitchell Tierney with James Sharman and Craig Forrest doing a pre-game panel for those in attendance at the Rec Room here today.... and he’s not wearing a turtle neck.

2:15 p.m. — You should see the lineup at the Rec Room — almost out the door at 2 p.m.. TORONTO FC FANS SHOWED UP!

2:00 p.m. — Starting lineups are out! Jozzyyyyyyyyyy

1:30 p.m. EST — Michael Singh here. We’ll be live from the Rec Room in Toronto this afternoon at the FootyTalks viewing party — which is just one of a ton of different viewing parties around the city to watch the Reds. Where are you watching the match from this afternoon?


Starting Lineups

TORONTO FC

We were 11/11 with our prediction on this one. Gonzalez returns to the 11. Altidore makes the bench.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS

Torres starts at CB for Seattle. A similar side to 2017 in Toronto...

1:00 p.m. EST — We’re expecting the starting XI from both sides in about an hour from now. In the meantime, check out Benedict Rhodes’ breakdown of who he thinks we’ll see today from both sides.


Preview

(Courtesy Brady Reid)

Neither team was expected to be back here in 2019, yet here we are.

For the third time in four seasons, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders will face off in the MLS Cup Final.

Last Wednesday in Atlanta, TFC grinded out a 2-1 victory on the road courtesy of a 78th minute stunner from substitute Nick DeLeon.

Meanwhile, out West, the Sounders shocked Carlos Vela and co. as the 2016 MLS Champions cruised to a 3-1 victory away to a powerhouse LAFC side thanks to a brace from Raul Ruidiaz.

As a result, it’s round three between two familiar foes this Sunday at CenturyLink Field with Major League Soccer supremacy on the line.

Early in 2019, these two sides looked to be on two very different trajectories. Seattle begun the regular season losing just one of their first 13 matches — an away loss to LAFC, while as most of the Reds’ faithful will remember, the club struggled to find an identity early on, which in part led to an eight-game stretch between early May and late June where TFC failed to pick up a victory.

Following their hot start, Seattle was inconsistent throughout the rest of the regular season, failing to string together three consecutive wins in their final 20 matches. Despite this, the Sounders 16-10-8 record was good enough for 2nd place in the Western Conference. Of the 52 goals they scored in the regular season, over half of them came from the dual threat of winger Jordan Morris (13 goals) and talisman Raul Ruidiaz (14 goals).

While both sides had their ups and downs in 2019, TFC and Seattle both got hot at the right time. Dating back to the regular season, Toronto is undefeated in thirteen straight matches, including eight straight without a loss away from home. Conversely, Seattle have won seven straight on their own turf, with their last home loss coming back on August 4. Furthermore, through three playoff games respectively, each side has scored nine goals apiece.

The lone meeting between the two clubs came way back on April 13 when Seattle defeated TFC by a 3-2 scoreline at CenturyLink Field. Since that encounter almost seven months ago, there has been plenty of change within the squad for both teams.

For Seattle, center-half Chad Marshall retired midway through the season. As a three time MLS defender of the year, Marshall’s departure was a big adjustment for the Sounders. In addition, having been injured back in April, Raul Ruidiaz was unable to feature against the Reds last time out. Coming off a brace against LAFC in the Western conference final, his presence in the Sounders XI will certainly be noted by Greg Vanney and his defenders.

For Toronto, the match against Seattle back in April marked a first career MLS start for Reds keeper Quentin Westberg—who has grown immensely since. In addition, TFC had yet to acquire TAM winger Nicolas Benezet, while the emergence of Tsubasa Endoh and Richie Laryea was still in its infancy. Considering the lack of experience for Westberg and the need for width at this stage of the season, the TFC faithful shouldn’t be dwelling on a result way back when during the #VanneyOut era.

Ahead of Sunday’s final, TFC Captain Michael Bradley addressed the media regarding both the familiarity of the two sides on this stage as well as the ways in which this final will be different from the previous two.

“It’s obviously the same opponent,” said Bradley on Thursday. “Their team has changed a little bit, and so has ours. We feel like we have a pretty good grip on them, what makes them good, who makes them good... I’m sure they feel in a similar way about us.”

As has been the theme of these playoffs for TFC, there remains uncertainty regarding the status of striker Jozy Altidore. While Altidore suggested earlier this week it would take a miracle for him to play a part in Sunday’s final, Seattle are expecting the American no. 9 to feature to some extent.

Defender Omar Gonzalez is once again fit and ready to feature should Greg Vanney require his services. With Laurent Ciman doing a job and then some for Vanney in Atlanta, its unclear whether the Reds boss will elect to take the Belgian out of the XI for Sunday’s final.

For Seattle, veteran defender Roman Torres had been struggling with a hamstring injury of late. Based on recent training sessions, the Sounders CB is reportedly expected to start the final.

For the third straight match, Toronto FC are on the road and the odds-makers have them as heavy underdogs heading into the final. For TFC and their supporters, the hope will be to defy the odds and make it three straight wins on the road in the postseason.

Besides the venue change, it’s same old, same old for Seattle and Toronto. With the MLS Cup Final head-to-head matchup tied at one apiece, the prospect of taking home hardware against an old friend on Sunday should make for a cracking final come Sunday.

Additional Notes:

  • Reds’ captain Michael Bradley will play in his 200th competitive match for Toronto FC in Sunday’s final. With his contract up in the off-season, an MLS Cup for TFC would reportedly automatically trigger a one-year $6.5 million USD extension.
  • Sounders’ win against TFC in the 2016 final came in Penalty kicks, with Seattle failing to register a shot on goal through 120 minutes of open play.
  • The winner of Sunday’s final will become the sixth team in MLS history to win multiple MLS Cups.

How to Watch

The match today is on TSN 4, with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. EST. Follow along on our LIVE match thread right here as the Reds hope to provide a happy ending on a storybook season.