At long last, the 2017 MLS Cup final is upon us, with Toronto FC hosting the Seattle Sounders in a rematch of last year’s final. Same teams, same venue, but hopefully not the same game. In 2016, TFC smothered the Sounders, holding them without a shot on goal for 120 minutes only to be unable to solve Stefan Frei. In the end, it took six rounds of penalties before Roman Torres powered the winning shot home for Seattle.
For TFC, the object is twofold: get revenge for last year, and remove any doubt that this is the strongest team in MLS history. For the Sounders, proving last year’s win was deserved is a sure motivator. With both teams having improved on the attacking side this season, we should see a more open final.
Location: BMO Field (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Kickoff time: 4:00pm Eastern (but expect a lengthy pregame show)
Referee: Allen Chapman
Projected TFC starting 11:
The 352 will definitely be in place, but the Reds have two question marks. Jozy Altidore will start if healthy, but he was only just barely able to train this week. That was according to plan if Greg Vanney’s public statements were on the level, but we could well be seeing an intent to mislead Seattle. If he can’t go due to his twisted ankle, Tosaint Ricketts will start instead, and TFC will have a lot less in terms of hold-up play than usual.
The other issue is not about an injury, but about whether Vanney prefers the industry of Marky Delgado or the extra attacking punch that Jonathan Osorio brings to the table. I think Vanney goes with Delgado in an attempt to win central midfield through sheer effort, but it’s a close call for sure.
Update: Here’s the actual TFC lineup, and it’s a surprise!
This is a 442 diamond, with Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow playing as fullbacks, Delgado and Osorio as the shuttlers, and Victor Vazquez further upfield than he’d be in the 352.
Projected Seattle starting 11:
Seattle has no injury questions hanging over their team now that Osvaldo Alonso was conclusively counted as out for this one. The only thing left to be settled is whether Brian Schmetzer chooses Nouhou Tolo at left back, moving Joevin Jones up to left wing, or goes with Victor Rodriguez as the winger and Jones as the fullback. Rodriguez has been a key cog since arriving, and being able to use him and Nicolas Lodeiro to pin TFC’s wingbacks back could be very useful. On the other hand, this is a road game, and the more defensively sound choice is probably to go with Nouhou and reserve Rodriguez as a game-changing sub.
Update: Here’s the Seattle lineup. No changes from above, with Rodriguez starting over Nouhou, and former D.C. United attacker Lamar Neagle is on the bench:
Reading material: Waking the Red is emphasizing the importance of wing play and wondering about Altidore’s status. Over at Sounder at Heart, the focus is on the ways Seattle can disrupt Michael Bradley, and their main gamethread is here.
Available TV: ESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes, AFN Sports 2
Available streaming: ESPN3, WatchESPN, Univision Deportes En Vivo, Univision Now
What are you drinking?: Probably just coffee. I need to hit the liquor store.
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