TORONTO – To paraphrase Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney, if we're talking about everything other than the game itself, then it's just a typical cup final.
Whether it is the madness that is Super Bowl Media Day or the question that every coach must face about nocturnal activities ahead of the big game, as anticipation builds, there is always some soundbyte that catches fire, ping-ponging between the two teams as the clock ticks toward kickoff.
The 2017 MLS Cup's version came this past Saturday, when Vanney remarked, rather matter of fact-ly, that he was interested to see how the Seattle Sounders would respond to the intensity of the final, given how little resistance they encountered advancing through the Western Conference of these Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Seattle's Brian Schmetzer responded that he thought such a dish, fit for a hungry media, was a mere “side salad” to his club.
Back at training on Tuesday, Vanney both doubled down and qualified his remarks, which he himself termed “semi-ridiculous.”
“My point was I do think the Eastern Conference Playoffs have been a little more intense, more fiercely-contested, down to the wire,” said Vanney. “Seattle, to be fair, has had some resistance through the process, but when you play a lot of it with a man up it just is what it is.
“I know they'll be ready. They have a very veteran team, guys who have been there and done that. They'll be ready.”
Vanney explained that in part, his words were a message to his own club more than the opposition.
“It's for us, my guys, to say: 'Bring the intensity ... they haven't faced that,'” Vanney said.
“It was probably not well-articulated in the moment,” he added.
In his response, Schmetzer said anyone who believed his side was in need of such bulletin board material was “sadly mistaken”.
While he appeared a little miffed that his previous comments gained such traction, Vanney insisted they won't have any real influence on what occurs on the pitch on Saturday (4 pm ET | ESPN, UniMas, TSN, TVAS).
“At the end of the day none of it matters when the ball kicks off,” Vanney said. "Emotions over the course of the game will be dictated by the game itself, what happens in the game. There isn't anybody who starts a game who stops and thinks about whatever it was that was on their bulletin board.
“If we come out, have a lot of possession, create chances, put one in the back of the net, they could care less what I or anybody said last week."