Toronto FC aren’t the only team with a shot at making history at MLS Cup on Saturday (4 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás; TSN, TVAS).
The Seattle Sounders will move into some elite company of their own if they spoil Toronto’s bid to become the first team in MLS to ever win a domestic treble, as a win at BMO Field would make them just the fourth club in league history to claim back-to-back titles.
D.C. United (1996, 1997), Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007) and the LA Galaxy (2011, 2012) are the only three teams to repeat as MLS Cup champions. The Sounders knew those Galaxy teams well, finishing second to them in the 2011 regular season Western Conference standings and falling to them in the 2012 conference final.
Stefan Frei wasn’t on those Seattle teams that fell short of LA in 2011 and 2012, but that hasn’t stopped him from using the prospect of joining those Galaxy squads in MLS lore as motivation throughout the playoffs.
“Once we started getting closer to the playoffs, at least for me and the goalkeeping unit, we started bringing up that LA squad that won back to back a few years ago and how we actually hold a lot of respect for those squads,” Frei told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. “It’s a very, very difficult feat to accomplish and here we find ourselves with an opportunity to do something similar. So I think the whole squad realizes that this is an immense opportunity and we’re very excited at the prospect of having a chance to achieve it.”
While Frei is cognizant of moving into elite historical company, Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer isn’t thinking about the implications of winning back-to-back titles. He’s more focused on continuing the measured approach Seattle used so effectively in their dramatic run to MLS Cup 2016.
“I know it’s out there, but the guys don’t really have to focus on it. We, as a coaching staff, haven’t been focused on it,” he said. “Our mantra last year, we just took one game at a time. Last year was we had to win pretty much every game to even make the playoffs and that went through to the playoffs and we got some results and ended up winning the Cup, so I think some of that has translated into messaging for this year.
“I think the coaching staff still believes that we have to view each game as an individual game and prepare for a final. I think some of the statistical stuff that is out there in social media about our defense or their record or goal difference or anything like that, I think it does go away in many aspects. This is a final and it’s one game and the better team on that day is going to come out and be crowned champion.”