Welcome to another edition of "Discuss," in which MLSsoccer.com editors debate the topics of the moment in MLS. This week, we tackle the fate of the four remaining teams in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs...
We're two games away from knowing who will contest MLS Cup, and both the Western and Eastern Conference Championship series stand on a knife edge after narrow home wins in the first leg. Toronto will be looking to turn around a 3-2 aggregate deficit at home against rival Montreal, while Colorado will be looking to turn around a similar 2-1 scoreline and thwart Seattle's dreams of reaching a first MLS Cup final. In that light, we decided to pose our editors a simple question: who will advance to MLS Cup?
CASTILLO: Toronto and Seattle
In the East, both Montreal and Toronto FC, frankly, put in worrying performances, each team’s defense shriveling up and dying in different halves. This is going to be much more of a problem for Montreal in Leg Two, where Giovinco will still threaten, and this time in front of his home crowd. Combine that with TFC’s road goals, and I’m feeling like it’ll be the Reds moving on.
In the West, it’s equally a toss-up, with the altitude posing a real problem for any visitors to Commerce City. But in the end, I think the Seattle Sounders want it much more, and that might pull them through. It’s a point of franchise pride, given their epic comeback and, you know, the fact that their archrivals won it all last year. On top of that, I don’t think the Rapids’ defense-centric m.o. will serve them against the Sounders’ attack.
COUCH: Colorado and Montreal
You can check for the long version here, but I think Montreal manages to again score first, and ruin the hopes and dreams of the TFC faithful for a second straight season with a crushing defeat. Oh, how badly that would burn! Out West, count me in as a converted Colorado believer. They just keep finding ways to move forward, whether it’s regular-season success or advancing through the postseason. One more home victory is cake, and then they host Cup at altitude. Going to be a challenge for anyone opposing.
ROSANO: Colorado and Toronto
I made a bracket and I'm sticking to it. And in all seriousness, I think Toronto's trio of big names – Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley – have what it takes to deliver in the biggest game in franchise history. Montreal can certainly pose them some problems, but Toronto's firepower will prevail.
Out West, if there's any team that can grind out a 1-0 win, it's the Colorado Rapids. Their attack has sputtered at times, but they'll be good for a goal and a clean sheet that will see them continue their unbeaten run at home this season and land a place at the table on Dec. 10.
BOEHM: Colorado and Montreal
It hasn't made them a favorite of neutrals (whose preferences are cruelly fickle, anyway). But no one keeps it tighter than the 2016 Colorado Rapids, and that comes in handy at this time of year. The Mile High Club have allowed a jaw-droppingly low seven goals at home across 17 regular-season games and one playoff encounter in 2016. One big X-factor, though: Sam Cronin's suspension means the Rapids must game-plan a new wrinkle to handcuff Nico Lodeiro, because that job is too much for Jermaine Jones and Micheal Azira alone.
Thanks to that chaotic first leg in the Big O, there's more uncertainty built into the East's decider. But I'm giving Montreal the edge based on their veteran savvy and reactive style, which suits the postseason to a T and will do so again at BMO Field on Wednesday. There's little denying that Toronto have more talent at their disposal, especially with Giovinco and Altidore in form up top. But there's just something special about this grizzled Impact side.
RODRIGUEZ: Seattle and Montreal
MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field, this time with the hometown Sounders playing? I've already got goosebumps just thinking about it. I think the Sounders will bend mightily against the Rapids, but won't ultimately break, and will continue their unlikely run to the final. It may not be pretty, there may be an unfortunate card or two, but the Sounders will find a way to get past fortress Dick's Sporting Goods Park and set up a game for all the glory at their home stadium.
And for the Sounders to host MLS Cup, the Montreal Impact have to continue to get the better of Toronto FC, and I think they'll manage it. For all of the chaos of the first leg and the pure firepower of TFC, the Impact have a wily nature in knockout games the past two years that shows they know how to get the job done. Don't be surprised if this is another epic match, but one in which the Impact emerge to compete for their first MLS Cup.