Sounders host Toronto in MLS Cup Final


The 2019 MLS Cup Final kicks off on Sunday evening at 8pm UK time with hosts Sounders FC meeting Toronto FC for the third time in four years in the final.

That the same two sides have reached the final with such regularity is noteworthy enough in a league where salary caps and financial parity are designed to make it harder to dominate.

Both clubs have perfected the skills of holding enough back in the regular season to be able to time their arching runs perfectly.

This has helped to breeze past sides who may have gained more points and won more matches during the league part of the calendar.

For the City of Seattle though, this year is a little more special.

The hosting venue is decided by which of the participants won more points in that regular season.

Both the 2018 and 2016 finals were held in Toronto for that reason so this year is Seattle’s first home game.

Their venue, now known as CenturyLink Field for commercial reasons, also hosted the 2009 final; however, in those days, the venue was awarded to a city at the start of the season. Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake contested that final.

So it’s a third final for Seattle Sounders FC and the second at the venue, but their first at their home stadium and is therefore more than a little special for the football-mad Cascadian city.

That fate and form has thrown these two sides together so often so recently masks a very different MLS history.

Since they entered the league in 2009, Sounders FC have made the playoffs every season.

Toronto, however, failed to make it past the regular season at their first eight attempts, eventually crawling in through with a sixth-place finish in 2015, with as many wins as losses (15) and a goal difference of zero.

They were hammered 3-0 by Canadian rivals Montreal in the first round.

The next year, they reached the final only to lose to Seattle on penalties after a 0-0 draw. They obtained their revenge the following season with a 2-0 win over the same opponent.

Sounders barely played their best football on either occasion, becoming the first side to win MLS Cup without a shot on target in 2015. Both sides therefore have some ghosts to kill on Sunday.

The venue, shared with the NFL SeaHawks, will be a tremendous sight to see with a likely 70,000+ crowd filling it.

The US v Canada element has been significantly underplayed given the nature of the rivalry between the two clubs, as well as focus on how hot an item a match ticket has become here in Seattle.

Traditionally Toronto fans travel well and despite the short notice, their fans are expected to paint a corner of the stadium red among the masses of luminous green Sounders colours.

A local shows his support for the Sounders in MillCreek, WA on Thursday

Both sides needed extra time to win their first game; Toronto overcoming Wayne Rooney’s DC United 5-1 with four extra-time goals, while Sounders pipped Dallas 4-3.

Toronto beat New York City FC in New York in their semi-final, while Sounders overcame Real Salt Lake more easily with a 2-0 win.

Without much doubt, both sides had their best results in their relative conference finals. Seattle beat LA FC 3-1 in California, having come from behind. Toronto also came from behind to beat Atlanta 2-1 in Georgia.

Both clubs began those matches as outsiders. Atlanta had finished eight points ahead of Toronto and Seattle trailed LA FC by a massive sixteen.

Seattle as hosts, as well as having the better regular season points haul, will start favourites on Sunday.

Sounders won an earlier meeting between the two sides 3-2, but that was way back in April, with Sounders producing another come from behind victory.

But this league has an unpredictability factor not often seen in European league where money can buy success.

Prost International will be at the game in Seattle and you can follow our live tweets on the Prost Soccer twitter account.


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