There are going to be plenty of stars on the pitch Sunday for MLS Cup between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada). But what would a best XI between the two clubs look like?
For the sake of this (very silly and not overly serious) imagined team, let's go with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei
I mean, what else is there to say?
Defenders: Kelvin Leerdam, Chris Mavinga, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Smith
It feels churlish to drop Kim Kee-Hee for Omar Gonzalez, despite the latter not yet playing a minute in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. But Toronto lost just once in 14 games with the US international in the starting XI, compared to nine losses in 20 without him. Laurent Ciman has filled in admirably during these playoffs, but Gonzalez still merits inclusion.
Chris Mavinga is a no-brainer, and he might be the best defender on the field when in form. Brad Smith, who spent time in the Liverpool youth set-up like Mavinga, is a potentially game-breaking threat down the left flank. Kelvin Leerdam ain't too shabby on the opposite touchline, either.
Defensive midfielders: Michael Bradley, Cristian Roldan
Sometimes, we all fall victim to past performances. Michael Bradley isn't at the apex of his career, but that doesn't mean he's dropped off the map. He is, in fact, good. Gustav Svensson is also quality, to be fair, but in one game to win it all, I'm taking Bradley and giving him the armband. Cristian Roldan's all-action play and indefatigable running are two welcomed descriptors for any box-to-box midfielder, hence his inclusion.
Jonathan Osorio is a tough omission. I didn't know how to seamlessly weave that into the above paragraph, but it needed to be said.
Attacking midfielders: Jordan Morris, Alejandro Pozuelo, Nico Lodeiro
Lodeiro led the Sounders back to MLS Cup this year and he probably won't stop being underrated, no matter how much praise he gets. Pozuelo is a member of this season's Best XI and is still ballin' out in these playoffs, despite playing as a center forward instead of his preferred No. 9. That's come without Toronto seeing much of the ball this postseason, where he's at his best.
Forward: Raul Ruidiaz
In fact, two beers and a convincing argument later, you could pull me temporarily to Ruidiaz's side before ordering a third beer. But given that Altidore is likely unavailable for MLS Cup and Ruidiaz has shapeshifted into Playoff Ruidiaz once again, he gets the nod.