And then there were two. The 2019 Major League Soccer season has been a long and compelling one and now it has produced a fascinating showpiece event. The Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC know each other well having met in two of the last three MLS Cup finals. This weekend will make it three from the last four. Here is a preview of Sunday’s match at CenturyLink Field.
2019 MLS Cup
CenturyLink Field, Sunday 10 November
How did both teams get here?
It’s fair to say that an MLS Cup match-up between these two teams wasn’t the expected outcome of this season’s play-offs. With the defending champions Atlanta United and the Supporters’ Shield winners Los Angeles FC making it to their respective conference finals, they were predicted by most to meet in MLS Cup. That didn’t materialise as both Seattle and Toronto FC pulled off surprise wins on the road.
Both teams have built momentum over the course of the play-offs. For Toronto FC, it started with a 5-1 extra time away win over DC United. However, their run to MLS Cup really picked up energy with the win over NYC FC at CitiField. From there, there was a sense of destiny behind TFC’s run and they added to this by disposing of Atlanta United at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
The Seattle Sounders have had a slightly softer ride to MLS Cup, although they needed extra time to get past FC Dallas after twice spurning a lead. The defining result of their play-off run
What are the statistics?
For both teams, the omens heading into this game are good and so something has to give. Toronto FC are undefeated in their last 13 matches while the Sounders are undefeated in their last seven games at CenturyLink Field. It’s a good bet that there will be goals on Sunday. There has been over 2.5 goals scored in TFC’s last three away matches, while Seattle have scored two or more in their last three outings.
2u - Back Over 2.5 Goals @ -138
What’s the history between these two teams?
There are fiercer rivalries in MLS, but this has quietly become the defining fixture in North American soccer over the past few years with the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC meeting three times in four years in MLS Cup. While this might not be a rivalry as sharp as the one between Portland and Seattle or the one between Montreal and Toronto FC, it has developed in recent times. There will be an edge to what is served up on Sunday.
Unlike the last two MLS Cup meetings between these two teams, this one will be played at CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Sounders are undefeated in their last seven games. That could be a key factor this weekend, although TFC have shown over the course of the play-offs with wins at NYC FC and Atlanta United that they often find their best form on the road.
0.75u - Back Toronto FC To Score 2+ Goals @ +175
Who will decide this match?
With Jozy Altidore expected to miss this match having missed all of the play-offs so far, Toronto FC will rely on Alejandro Pozeulo to lead the line on Sunday. The Spaniard has two goals and two assists in his last three games. Pozuelo has shown himself to be a big game player, having led TFC to wins over DC United, New York City FC and Atlanta United in the play-offs. In MLS, there’s no game as big as MLS Cup and Pozuelo will be key to TFC’s chances.
Raul Ruidiaz has been a similarly important figure throughout the play-offs for the Sounders. His two goals in the Western Conference final saw Seattle past LAFC and into MLS Cup. The Peruvian striker has found another gear over the past few weeks with six goals and three assists in his last five games. This match will likely be decided by who gets hot in the final third. Ruidiaz v Pozuelo.
1.5u - Back Raul Ruidiaz Anytime Goalscorer @ +137
This is a difficult match to call. Both teams have momentum on their side and have surprised many observers by making an unexpected run all the way to MLS Cup. Toronto FC are a more ruthless side than the Sounders and that could get them over the line in the end, although if Ruidiaz continues his recent form the Canadians might have no answer.
1u - Back Toronto FC To Win @ +300