atlanta v lafc
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Which teams will go to MLS Cup 2019? Your guide to the potential matchups

And then there were four.

With the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs conference semifinals, and that mad, unforgettable night in Los Angeles in the rearview mirror, just 90 minutes separate Atlanta United, LAFC, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC from a place at MLS Cup on Nov. 10. Each potential matchup would offer something a little different.

Here's your guide to what could be in store.

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC

Oh boy. this again. 

Atlanta United vs. Seattle vs. The World

I got asked to write an entire piece on this very website about how much of a hate-watch this would be. In the regular season. Throw in the added context and content of an MLS Cup and my gosh, the fumes from the sheer amount of salt in the air could power this bad boy clear across the country and back.

Pile on the fact both fan bases are genuinely sick of each other after just three meetings and one incredible Raul Ruidiaz goal that didn’t win goal of the year because Seattle fans aren’t nearly as good at brigading polls as they used to be. No, Josef Martinez won that award. You’re probably mad just reading this paragraph. Why are you so mad? Wow, weird how mad you are. Don’t click on like eight more pieces of content about this if you’re going to be so mad about it. Calm down. 

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC

Look, I mean, third time in four years. That’s...pretty cool.

LAFC vs. Toronto FC

Exactly the matchup we expected. LAFC versus the former MLS Cup champion (from 2017). It wouldn’t have the hype of LAFC-Atlanta, but this is still as talented a matchup as we’ll have ever seen at MLS Cup. Toronto is currently playing as well as anyone besides LAFC has played this season, and LAFC has played better than anyone has in any season. 

The potential for Alejandro Pozuelo against Carlos Vela in a glorified trick-shot competition makes this extremely appetizing. 

The real meat of this thing, though is the “Bradley Bowl.” Or the “Battle of the Balds.” Or the “LOOK AT ME NOW DAD Derby.” Bob against Michael Bradley. Who hasn’t wanted to beat their dad at something? It’s instantly relatable. Especially if your dad never, ever let you win as a way of “toughening you up” even if all you really wanted to do was win at H-O-R-S-E just one time in your life before you leave the earth because maybe if you won at H-O-R-S-E then he’d be proud of you and why couldn’t he just be proud of you? But that’s probably only for a few of us.

Anyway, we’ll probably get some really sweet pieces about the bond between a father and son, and get a few good pictures of them hugging it out no matter what the result. And a couple of your relatives will think it’s “so nice.” And that will be good. But deep down you’ll know that Bob probably never let Michael win at H-O-R-S-E. There will be the highest of stakes.

LAFC vs. Atlanta United

You want it as bad as anyone else. Admit it. This would be the most talented collection of players to ever play in MLS Cup (and it may not even be close?). 

The regular-season meeting this year teetered on the edge of an instant classic. LAFC torched Atlanta for four goals in the worst 12 minute period of the year for Atlanta United that didn’t involve the Chicago Fire. No, seriously. Chicago mollywhopped Atlanta. It’s a thing that happened. 

Anyway, Atlanta came roaring back from a 4-1 first-half deficit to make it 4-3 with 40 minutes remaining, but couldn’t find a way to equalize. Both teams went full chaotic evil and it was a disaster and it was amazing and it was also kind of a disaster but, seriously, kind of amazing. Atlanta has certainly been more pragmatic over the last two months, but Frank de Boer’s side has rarely been forced to come out of its shell. Nothing that running into the LAFC buzzsaw couldn’t open up though. 

On top of that, it has the highest Q-Rating of any of these matchups. Two expansion sides that have had as much success as any other facing off in their second and third years with insane fan bases behind them? You’re watching. Even if it’s a hate-watch. 

Man, the content would be so good, too. Just non-stop stuff. For a whole week and a half, y’all would get to hear about how great each of these teams are and how amazing the fanbases are and how soccer didn’t really start until either of these... Hey no, wait, where are you going??

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC

Ok. So. 

These are much different teams than two and three years ago. It would be the first time Seattle hosted an MLS Cup that actually involved them, that’s pretty good. It would be loud. Loud is good.

Look, maybe just maybe this game is a blast and doesn’t end the way most trilogies end. Maybe it’s less The Hangover trilogy and more……….ok, I really can’t think of a trilogy that ends spectacularly, but this is MLS. Everyone is just the right mix of competent and volatile to make anything happen at any time, whether intentionally or not. This will be fun. I, Bobby Warshaw, promise this will be fun and you can definitely @ me on Twitter if it’s not. 

Series: 

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