Jonathan Osorio - Toronto FC - celebrate a goal vs. D.C. United in the 2019 playoffs
Gerry Angus-USA Today Sports Images

Five questions on MLS Cup: Can Toronto FC or the Seattle Sounders be called a dynasty?

Here we are.

The Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC MLS Cup trilogy is set. Who woulda thought?

Let's start with the micro and build out question-by-question to the macro. 

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P.S.: Read Andrew Wiebe's latest column, which delves into lessons behind Michael Bradley's career. 

Will Jozy Altidore and/or Omar Gonzalez play?

Jozy is the big variable, given that Gonzalez has made the matchday squad in the last two rounds.

Altidore's availability has violently careened from "it's hard for a final, injured or not, to pass it up" to "it'll take a bit of a miracle for me to play" back to "it will take a lot to keep Jozy out" and now not sounding so promising as of Thursday night when Altidore admitted he's yet to kick a soccer ball, a thing that is obviously important in this game of soccer.

So, who knows! 

What a boost it'd be for Toronto to bring Jozy on as a substitute, though, and allow Alejandro Pozuelo to return to his preferred No. 10 role. It'd also allow Jozuelo to cook up some sauce one last time in 2019. As for Gonzalez, he was twice an unused sub in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, so Greg Vanney may opt to retain the partnership of Chris Mavinga and Laurent Ciman

Still... who knows. Vanney might have a wrinkle up his sleeve. 

Did you forget about how loud CenturyLink Field can be?

I hope you didn't. And guess what? It'll be louder than ever on Sunday.

With how great the atmosphere has been at new venues like Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Banc of California Stadium and Allianz Field in recent years, it's easy to forget about the Sounders. 

The game is perhaps the hottest ticket in Seattle sports history and will be a record crowd in Sounders history. It's going to be wild. 

How might the game play out stylistically?

Ironically, MLS Cup 2019 may look like the inverse of MLS Cup 2016. 

The Sounders went to Toronto, sat deep and looked to frustrate a pyrotechnic attack led by Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez. They were the underdogs and on the road, so it was the pragmatic approach. It worked. Seattle kept a clean sheet over 120 minutes, despite being outshot 19-3, thanks in no small part to some Stefan Frei heroics. They went on to win in penalties. 

This year, Toronto are the underdogs on the road. They held a high line early against Atlanta and got punished with an early goal then early penalty, which Josef Martinez failed to convert. It could have been game over after 10 minutes. 

Toronto are likely to sit deeper, like Seattle did in 2016 and what they did against New York City FC, and then look to hit on the break or capitalize on Pozuelo's brilliance. Is this defense sturdy enough to withstand a barrage of attacks from the Sounders?

For a deeper tactical view, Matt Doyle laid it out quite well.

You need to win one game: Who do you pick?

A quick caveat: I'd take all six here. But, if I had to choose...

Nicolas Lodeiro or Alejandro Pozuelo? Two Best XI caliber players, two match-winning players, two of the best No. 10's in the league. I'll take Lodeiro, by a hair. 

The Uruguayan's relentless work rate puts him over the top, a quality matched by few across the league, let alone creative attackers. This isn't to say Pozuelo is lazy, of course. It's that Lodeiro is off the charts. 

Cristian Roldan or Jonathan Osorio? Both are key players for their team, regular national teamers and provide a two-way presence in the midfield. Osorio may be considered the greater attacking threat, but Roldan has outscored Osorio in three of the last four seasons and out-assisted him twice in the last four. 

So I'm going with Roldan. 

Nouhou Tolo or Richie Laryea? Let's give a little bit of love to a couple players who would be starting on a bunch of teams across the league, but have been used off the bench this postseason. Gimme Laryea over Nouhuo for the form that he's been in for both club and Canada across the last month. 

Will a dynasty be made Sunday?

Not quite – you need more than two titles to be a dynasty – but we're splitting hairs at this point. Dynasty or not, it's one hell of a run. It already is for both these teams, because arriving to MLS Cup three times in four years is a great achievement. 

But dynasties are built on trophies. Either Seattle or Toronto will have won their second MLS Cup in four years, and both are well-positioned to keep this success rolling in the next few years. The dynasty talk won't be going away. 

Lodeiro will enter his age-31 season in 2020, while Raul Ruidiaz turns 30 next summer. Stefan Frei is still at the top of his game, and Roldan and Jordan Morris continue to grow as two of the best players in their position groups around the league. They're at the beginning of their peak years, too. Kim Kee-Hee is in his prime, and Xavier Arreaga is entering his prime. This core ain't done. Garth Lagerwey ain't done adding to the squad, either. 

As for Toronto, it's a similar story. They're going nowhere. Altidore is re-signed, Pozuelo just turned 28. Mavinga is 28, and Osorio and Marky Delgado have helped Michael Bradley age gracefully. 

Ali Curtis is wrapping up his first season north of the border, already having navigated the transition from Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez to Pozuelo and Co. He has more moves to make, too. 

Seattle and Toronto will continue to be in the top tier of MLS clubs for the foreseeable future, just as they have been in the recent past. 

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