It’s no secret that Toronto FC are far-and-away the favorite to win its first MLS Cup, one year after falling to Seattle Sounders in penalty kicks.
TFC has scooped up 11 more points than its nearest competitor, New York City FC, has a plus-37 goal differential, is unbeaten at home, and boasts more road points than 10 teams have acquired at home. Almost every major betting has them as somewhere between 2:1 and 3:1 odds to win the title despite the MLS Cup Playoffs being a massive crapshoot based on form.
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Consider this: Toronto hasn’t even played in a one-goal match since Aug. 5, and has not lost since July 1.
As it stands, the Reds will likely wrap up the Supporters’ Shield this week ahead of a first-round playoff bye. The MLS playoff dynamics mean TFC will face a Conference Semifinal opponent who will be playing its third and fourth matches within a 10-day span.
At the risk of being too certain, it’s hard to imagine any team handling TFC over two legs. Ranking any team’s chances to knock them off almost certainly weighs in the favor of Western Conference clubs, who will have the be better than the Reds over just 90 minutes. Seeing as that will come in the cold confines of BMO Field, perhaps that should also weigh into the discussion.
Without further ado, the five teams with the best chance to ruin TFC’s dream of a treble (the Reds already have a Canadian Championship in tow).
5. Atlanta United — Tata Martino’s men have the offensive firepower to spring an upset and are constructed in a similar manner to TFC. Greg Garza and other outside threats will force TFC’s wily wing backs to respect the threat.
4. Seattle Sounders — May have been No. 1 were it not for the injury to Jordan Morris. The fact is that even though Seattle was outplayed in last year’s final, the Sounders can bring ghosts with them to BMO Field.
3. New York City FC — City has two keys to their upset hopes. First, their opponent before TFC will likely be a Chicago team who is not racing to the finish line while the Reds will almost certainly face a team in form. The second is David Villa, who is maybe the best player in MLS history and, along with his manager, knows a thing or two about big games.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps — An All-Canadian Final would be hard for Don Garber to promote with a straight-face, but could be an amazing 90 minutes of soccer. The ‘Caps would have already navigated a rivarly-ridden road to Ontario, and Carl Robinson knows the ins and outs of Toronto. This would be a beauty. A beauty!
1. Sporting KC — If there is a manager in MLS more fit to match wits with Greg Vanney than Martino, it’s Peter Vermes. KC is a complete team with depth that will neither be scared of cold weather nor a boisterous stadium.