Toronto and Seattle are set to lock horns in the 2017 MLS Cup at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon (4 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás; TSN, TVAS), with the Sounders defending the title after prevailing in a tense and dramatic penalty kick shootout there a year ago.
Trying to win back-to-back crowns might normally add a good chunk of pressure to the already high stakes nature of a cup final, but the Sounders sounded and seemed relaxed on Thursday. Perhaps no one embodied that better than Lodeiro, the skillful Uruguayan attacker who has a boatload of experience playing for trophies.
“I don’t feel pressure, but I do feel that anxiety, that adrenaline, that little tickle in the stomach that all players feel,” Lodeiro said. “You feel something in every final. You try to enjoy it, but in a way that is done with lots of responsibility. That nervousness is always there for me before every final, however, because every player feels that.
“I feel happy that I get these feelings because it means every final for me is very important.”
While Lodeiro’s winning pedigree may ease the tension of big games like Saturday’s, he may also be benefitting from the reality that Toronto are filling the role of favorites. The Reds have already won two titles this year and are fresh off of setting the record for most points in a regular season, and many expect the talented Eastern Conference side to exact revenge for last year’s defeat.
“The group is relaxed,” said Lodeiro. “No one ever talks about us being a great team or having great players, but we feel very comfortable with that.”
Like last year, Lodeiro will be tasked with helping to lead Seattle’s attack against Toronto. This time, however, he will have the likes of Clint Dempsey and Victor Rodriguez as teammates to share the defensive attention and open up spaces.
“I have had very good chemistry with him, a very good feeling and understanding with him from the moment I got here,” Rodriguez said of Lodeiro. “I’m happy because he’s a great teammate and because we understand one another both on and off the field, and that’s very important.”
If that trio can combine well enough to upend Toronto again, the Sounders will become the fourth club to win two consecutive MLS Cups. There would be another trophy to raise, another celebration in a rain of confetti to bask in, and another memorable moment for Lodeiro to enjoy.
“All the titles you win are special, but truthfully the most recent one you win is the one you try to relish in the best way because you never know when you’re going to have another chance to accomplish that,” Lodeiro said. “I relish every title with lots of joy, especially these last few ones because I’ve been able to share them with my family and my son. He likes to be with me and seeing him happy makes me celebrate winning in a special way.
“On top of that, the way the people, the fans, and the city of Seattle treat me and received me when I arrived make me very happy so I enjoy it as a fan of the club as well.”
ExtraTime Radio Podcast
LISTEN: The 2017 MLS season comes down to this... Seattle vs. Toronto, an MLS Cup rematch that might just be the best final of all-time, depending on who you ask. Will the Sounders repeat? Will the Reds lay claim the best season of all-time? David Gass and Sam Stejskal get things started from the Six, and Andrew and Matt finish things off from the Green Room back in NYC. Subscribe so you never miss a show! Download this episode!