Two teams that weren’t necessarily supposed to make it to MLS Cup face off today, as the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC meet in Major League Soccer’s finale for the third time in the last four seasons. The teams split the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cups, with both games being played in Toronto. This time, TFC has to head to the Pacific Northwest, where over 70,000 fans are going to pack CenturyLink Field.
Location: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Kickoff time: 3:00pm Eastern
Projected Seattle starting 11: (4231) - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-Hee, Roman Torres, Brad Smith; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan; Joevin Jones, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Raul Ruidiaz
Brian Schmetzer is among the least likely tinkerers in MLS, so the odds of a wild formation change, or even a surprise starter, are very low. There’s only one real question here: will it be Torres or Xavier Arreaga starting alongside Kim at center back? The rumors point to Torres regaining his spot after coming off against Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinal, but there’s an argument that Arreaga’s mobility is more valuable against the fluid TFC attack.
Projected TFC starting 11: (433) - Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow; Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio; Tsubasa Endoh, Alejandro Pozuelo, Nicolas Benezet
Greg Vanney has a similarly tough call, as Omar Gonzalez hasn’t appeared yet in the playoffs due to a hamstring strain. Laurent Ciman has bounced back from a tough season to play really well in his stead, but TFC has unquestionably been better with Gonzalez in the lineup. Look for Vanney to restore him, provided he’s fully fit.
However, unlike Schmetzer, Vanney has made major one-off changes for specific games in the past, so we could see something like a 352, or a 541, or a midfield diamond. Vanney’s hands are tied a bit due to the question of how much (or even whether) Jozy Altidore can play. It seems like Altidore can maybe provide 30-45 minutes, tops, and Vanney doesn’t really seem to want to put his other forward options on the field.
As such, two-forward options probably have to wait for Altidore, so if Vanney goes away from the very flexible 433 we’ve seen for most of the playoffs, we could end up seeing a 541 (with Ciman coming in, Osorio on the left, and one spot on the right left for either Benezet or Endoh).
Referee: Allen Chapman
Available TV: ABC, Univision, TUDN
Available streaming: Univision Now, TUDN En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: I plan on making chili either tonight or tomorrow, so I need to go get some Guinness as part of the recipe. If I can get myself to the liquor store before the game, I’ll be having Guinness. If not...maybe I’ll just keep it simple with some Pikesville rye or Patron añejo.
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