TORONTO – As soccer fans prepare to witness a third MLS Cup final in four years featuring the same two teams, a famous quote is being adapted.
Former England striker Gary Lineker is credited with saying, “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” His comments came after his side were knocked out of the semifinals by Germany at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.
The Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs version makes a few changes:
MLS is a simple league. Twenty-four teams chase a title for 34 matches, and at the end the Seattle Sounders always play Toronto FC.— Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) October 31, 2019
That Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC will meet at the 2019 MLS Cup Final on Sunday (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada) at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, having already split the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cups, is a rare feat.
“I don’t think anything is a coincidence,” said Greg Vanney. “Really, it’s incredible for two teams now in the league, with 20-plus teams, to find their way back through both conferences three times out of four years. There is really something special to that.”
“It’s only happened five times,” Vanney recalled. “LA Galaxy twice – once I was on that as a player, and another time later, Seattle, Toronto, New England, and D.C. – they did it when there were ten teams in the league. That’s a feat. And for two teams to do that is really special.”
Nick DeLeon, who watched the previous two clashes from his perch in D.C., was also in awe.
“It goes to show the tapestry of the organizations,” DeLeon, acquired this past offseason in the Re-Entry Draft, said. “Seattle is a very well-run organization, as is TFC. Both have battle-proven veterans, guys who have been there. It’s the leadership and the organization as a whole, the demands. They just know how to get the job done. To be honest, it’s pretty crazy that this is happening. I’m just lucky to be part of it.”
Just don’t go comparing it to the NBA clashes between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who met in four straight finals from 2015-18. Be especially wary of that comparison around Justin Morrow, a Cavs fan and Cleveland native who lives in Toronto Raptors territory.
“I don’t think you could say that,” the left back laughed. “Both teams have been here, each have their wins. It’s exciting.”
Jonathan Osorio, a Raptors fan very much in his element, doesn’t dismiss it as chance.
“I don’t shake my head at it,” the midfielder said. “It means something, shows the consistency of the clubs in the last four years and what it means to be a top club in this league. All three times we’ve made it to MLS Cup we’ve done it in different ways, Seattle as well. The two clubs just find a way to win big games and that’s what matters in professional sports.”