EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day at 8 pm ET, full-match replays of MLS Classics will be released in their entirety on YouTube, Facebook, MLSsoccer.com, and the official MLS app (check out the full schedule). Among the MLS Classics: Toronto FC go for a unique treble against the Seattle Sounders in the 2017 MLS Cup final, a repeat of the matchup from a year earlier. Watch it on Friday night at 8 pm ET.
Who is the greatest team in MLS history?
It’s one of the livelier arguments you’re likely to find yourself in among people who cover or follow this league or its clubs. Was it the iconic D.C. United dynasty of the 1990s? One of the overpowering LA Galaxy sides headed by the Beckham-Donovan-Keane troika a decade ago? Perhaps the best of the Earthquakes-Dynamo powerhouse that won four MLS Cups from 2001-07?
I’ma let you finish, but the final answer is waiting for you on MLSsoccer.com and our various social channels tonight at 8 pm ET.
Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders have met in three MLS Cup finals over the past four seasons, and the 2017 vintage we’re about to re-air is special. Not just because of its entertainment value – this was an absolutely electric December night at BMO Field – but because it capped a truly unique achievement in modern North American soccer history.
No one in MLS has ever done a “treble” like TFC did three years ago: The Reds won every trophy available to them, hoisting the Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup. Carrying the hopes of a long-suffering sports town on their shoulders, including their own club's history of woe, they passed a variety of tests en route. And they did it all with both style and steel.
Inspired by blue-chip stars and undergirded by roster depth, 2017 Toronto could light you up or grind you down, depending on the circumstances. A scintillating attack led by Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez carved open back lines with individual quality and coordinated movements alike. Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado anchored a sturdy engine room and a versatile defensive corp thrived in a variety of formations and taskings.
Steering the ship was a coaching staff that to this day hasn’t gotten the praise I, and others, believe they deserve. Supported by Robin Fraser – one of the best assistants in MLS history and now the boss in Colorado – Greg Vanney installed a range of formations and tactical approaches that culminated in a surprise switch to a diamond 4-4-2 for the cup final, which helped the Reds dominate a Sounders side that had upset them in the same matchup at BMO Field a year prior.
After crushing the field in the Shield race – which they won by a 12-point margin and a +37 goal differential – TFC had to labor through the postseason, sweating out narrow aggregate wins over the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC. Meanwhile, the defending champions from Seattle had cruised, picking up momentum along the way. In the leadup to the final, much of the media chatter revolved around the teams’ contrasting demeanors, with Toronto looking sober and stern compared to the loose, lively Sounders.
But then when the opening whistle finally blew… well, here’s where I’ll shut up and tell you to just tune in, and watch how the best team this league has ever seen completed their march to glory in front of a euphoric crowd on the north shore of Lake Ontario.