MLS Cup final

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LIVE, MLS Cup Final: Seattle v. Toronto (again)

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Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders match wits in an MLS Cup Final for the third time in four years when they meet Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Washington.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Seattle v. Toronto ]

It’s a 3 p.m. ET kickoff, and the heavily-favored Sounders will be captained by playmaking wizard Nicolas Lodeiro as they bid for a second MLS crown.

[ MORE: Five key questions for the final ]

Jozy Altidore has a place on the bench for TFC, but whether that’s a smokescreen will not be known until the final throes of the last match on the Major League Soccer calendar for 2019.

LINEUPS

Altidore needs ‘a miracle’ to suit up in MLS Cup Final

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP
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It may take divine intervention for Jozy Altidore to return for Sunday’s MLS Cup Final in Seattle, which doesn’t bode well for his chances to suit up for the USMNT later this month.

[ MORE: Emery attacker use in focus ]

Altidore has 11 goals and 8 assists in 22 matches for Toronto FC this season, but has not played since the final match of the regular season.

And while TFC manager Greg Vanney responded that he believes in miracles, Altidore says it’s gonna take just that to have him ready by Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

From The Canadian Press:

“It’s been a while. At this point, it’ll take a little bit of a miracle to be out there on Sunday,” he said, referencing the MLS Cup final in Seattle against the Sounders. “But that’s where I am. And I’ve just got to try to keep trying to get myself there.”

That means more run for Tsubasa Endoh and Patrick Mullins, and the Reds are a big underdog for Sunday’s afternoon match.

It also means, which perhaps it should have any way, that Josh Sargent should be front and center for a massive CONCACAF Nations League match against Canada on Nov. 15.

MLS Cup Final preview: Seattle, Toronto battle subzero temps for first Cup

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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  • First MLS Cup Final for both
  • Sounders all-time 7W-2L-2T
  • TFC joined in 2007, Seattle 2009

It’ll be in the high twenties (-1 Celsius) when Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders kick off the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night in Ontario (Kickoff is Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT).

Combine the visible breath and slight chance of snow with a BMO Field which has been relentlessly loud throughut TFC’s playoff run, and we have the makings of an all-timer.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Cup roundtable ]

Toronto and Seattle met up at the same venue on July 2, the 1-1 draw perhaps a bit deflated by the absence of Clint Dempsey for Seattle and TFC’s American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

Seattle superstar Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t there, either, still weeks away from arriving from Boca Juniors.

This is the second MLS Cup Final at BMO Field, after Colorado defeated FC Dallas in 2010. TFC men Drew Moor and Clint Irwin were part of the championship-winning Rapids in that one.

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris greets fans who gathered to send off the team after MLS soccer training, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders were scheduled to travel to Toronto later Wednesday to prepare to face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s Jordan Morris (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

[ MORE: PST’s Michael Bradley interview ]

Toronto will bring star power to go with a challenging formation; While accolades rightly go to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco, the Reds’ 3-5-2 under Greg Vanney features versatile wide men in Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Seattle is powered through Nicolas Lodeiro, the ex-Boca Juniors playmaker who has been nearly as effective as Giovinco (albeit with a smaller MLS sample size). Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the ex-TFC man, has been very good at the back, but can the Sounders’ back line handle Altidore and Giovinco?

The metronomes could be the difference. Bradley’s been good for TFC, but Osvaldo Alonso gave an MLS MVP caliber performance this season.

[ MORE: PST talks with Ozzie Alonso ]

What they’re saying

Toronto FC keeper Irwin on the weather: “It’s probably the most difficult part. As a field player, you can move around. You’re warmer, more active. At this point, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up, and I’ll stay moving back there.”

Seattle forward Jordan Morris on Lodeiro“The first thing Lodeiro said to me is, ‘When I get the ball, you just run.’ I think of him like a quarterback.”

Prediction

Look to the engine rooms here. Alonso is a handful and a magnificent passer of the ball. On his day, Bradley is even better. Will it be? Neither player will shirk from pressure. We’re thinking extra time after a 1-1 match. And Toronto’s depth and home field will propel it to a 2-1 win.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Men in Blazers podcast: Vardy Party, Bibgate, and the MLS Cup Final

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Rog and Davo revel in Jamie Vardy‘s record breaking goal against Manchester United, break down #Bibgate at Chelsea, and look ahead to the MLS Cup Final.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Follow Live: MLS Cup Final – LA Galaxy vs NE Revolution (Lineups)

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Winner takes all. To the victor goes the spoils. Play for all the marbles.

That’s what today’s matchup is all about with the MLS Cup on the line.

It’s the MLS Cup Final from the StubHub Center at 3:00pm live on ESPN or follow along live online at NBCSports.com.

New England manager Jay Heaps has gone with 23-year-old winger Kelyn Rowe in the starting lineup on the left side, and they will look to push things wide. Rowe played just six minutes in the 2-2 draw with New York that sent the Revs to the final, coming on as a late substitute for Charlie Davies.

Rowe replaces Kevin Alston, who drops to the bench, and Chris Tierney moves back into the back line.

FOLLOW LIVE: LA Galaxy vs New England Revolution for MLS Cup

Meanwhile, nothing new from LA manager Bruce Arena, as Landon Donovan starts his final match before his retirement and will support Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes.

LINEUPS:

LA Galaxy: Penedo; De La Garza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Rogers; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes.
Bench: Rowe, Dunivant, Husidic, Gordon, Meyer, Gargan, Walker.

New England Revolution: Shuttleworth; Tierney, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell; Jones, Caldwell; Rowe, Nguyen, Bunbury; Davies.
Bench: Knighton, Alston, Barnes, Dorman, Kobayashi, Fagundez, Mullins.