TORONTO, Ont.—The two most successful MLS franchises in recent history go head-to-head in the 2019 MLS Cup Final, as Toronto FC travels to Seattle to take on the Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing numbers and storylines to keep an eye on heading into Sunday afternoon.
Toronto will face the Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS Cup Final for the third time in four seasons Sunday afternoon, making it just the second time in league history that the same two clubs have faced off in three Finals.
The Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution faced each other in 2002, 2005 and 2014 — over the course of 13 seasons. This speaks volumes about Toronto and Seattle’s recent reign.
Here is how the Toronto / Seattle rivalry ranks with the all-time playoff matchups in league history. Of course a much smaller league and inter-conference rivalries play a large role in the numbers below. (Yellow indicates teams that have faced each other in the playoffs three times in a four year span)
Toronto has had remarkable success in head-to-head match ups over their competitive history. They have a 27-11 (.711) all-time record stretching over four competitions.
Toronto is 12-4 (.750) in their 16 Voyaguers Cup ties since the format went to knockout in 2011.
A look a Toronto’s MLS Cup Playoffs history — 9-2 (.818)
The Reds even have a positive record in knockout rounds in Champions League, reaching back into the early days of club history.
Moving on, Toronto has won each of their first three playoff matches in the 75th minute or later. The only other club to win every playoff match in the final 15 minutes was the 2009 MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake.
The Reds have played 220 road matches in their MLS history (regular season and playoffs).
On only two occasions have TFC managed to win three consecutive road matches — in 2016 and 2017, no coincidence. Of course, neither of those streaks came in three consecutive matches on the calendar, a feat they are dearly hoping to accomplish on Sunday.
Over their past 19 competitive matches, Toronto FC have not allowed three goals in a game. Running this streak to 20 matches would go a long way in achieving their ultimate goal.
The Reds have also strung together a critical 13 match unbeaten streak in the league — a new club record. A 14th match would earn them their second star.
At this point, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC have a similar trophy case — both have an MLS Cup and a Supporters Shield for their efforts, and have won more than their fair share of domestic cups.
I can only hope that this remains a moot point, but Sunday will be the 39th occasion that Toronto enters a match where penalty kicks loom as the ultimate tie-breaker.
Only four of the previous 38 have gone to the nervy spotters. Below is the all-time combined success rates of penalty kicks and shootout attempts for Toronto FC takers...
...and keepers. Here’s hoping the 11 attempts that Westberg has already faced in 2019 will be his final total — though he came up huge with the game on the line last weekend.
Meanwhile, with his 78th minute wonderstrike last week, Nick DeLeon became the third TFC player to score double digits for the club this season — continuing a three-year tradition for the Reds.
Now for some storylines to keep an eye on heading into Sunday.
Assuming Toronto doesn’t loan him back out to a European club on Monday, Sunday will be Alejandro Pozuelo’s 78th and final match of his 16-month “season”.
He has managed a competitive match every six days, so hopefully if there are buses being rented in Toronto next week, someone will give up their seat for poor Poz.
Captain Michael Bradley will become the third player in Toronto FC history to record 200 appearances with the club during Sunday’s Final. If the results go TFC’s way, a $6.5 million extension may make match #201 very likely, indeed.
Coach Greg Vanney will be looking for a second star for his scarf, and 100th competitive victory in his 225th match in charge of his Reds.
Stefan Frei was the only Toronto FC keeper to manage a dozen wins — once in the first eight seasons of club history. Quentin Westberg’s heroic performance in Atlanta ensured that the club has had a 12-match winner for the fifth consecutive season.