Sounders, Toronto FC set for a familiar MLS Cup final matchup
TORONTO (AP) – Its Atlanta celebrations over, Toronto FC returned to training Saturday to concentrate on a familiar MLS Cup opponent – the Seattle Sounders.
“We had our night to enjoy the Eastern Conference championship. Now it’s all back to business,” said midfielder Nick DeLeon, who scored the winning goal in Toronto’s 2-1 win over Atlanta United FC on Wednesday. “We’re 100% focused on getting bodies right and focusing on Seattle.”
The Nov. 10 showdown at Seattle marks the third MLS Cup meeting in four years between the teams.
Seattle won in 2016 in a penalty shootout after failing to put a shot on target during the game. Toronto avenged that loss in 2017, winning 2-0. Both games were at Toronto.
“I think really it’s incredible for two teams now in the league, with 20-plus teams, to find their way back through both conferences three times out of four years,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. “There’s really something special to that.”
The Los Angeles Galaxy have done it twice – once while Vanney played for them – with D.C. United and New England Revolution also making three finals in four years. Now Seattle and Toronto join them.
“That’s a big feat,” Vanney added. “And for two teams (in the same season) to be able to do that is really special.”
Both teams have sparkling resumes, although it took Toronto awhile to establish itself. It joined the league in 2007 and did not make the postseason until 2015. Seattle, which came on board in 2009, has never missed the playoffs.
“It shows the consistency of the clubs in the last four years and what it means to be a top club in this league,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said. “All three times that we’ve made it to the MLS Cup, we’ve done it different ways. So it’s pretty amazing. I think Seattle has done it different ways as well.”
TFC is in no hurry to get to Seattle, choosing to arrive Thursday for the Sunday game.
Star striker Jozy Altidore can use as much time as he can get to recover from the quad strain that has kept him out of the three previous playoff games. Altidore worked out with a trainer away from the rest of the team Saturday.
Vanney hopes Altidore can resume training with the full group in the next few days.
“The more fitness and high-speed running and those type of things that we can get him, then the more prepared he will be. … And the better fitness we can give him, the more minutes he’ll be capable of playing,” he said.