Toronto FC preview
They are the first Canadian side to ever make it this far following their dramatic Eastern Conference final victory against local rivals Montreal. After a pulsating couple of legs, TFC eventually powered through in extra time and did it without key man Sebastian Giovinco who was substituted off. Entering the playoffs, the hosts were in reasonable form, but the 4-4-2 diamond formation was too inconsistent. Manager Greg Vanney switched to a 3-5-2 and this has really done the job. Vanney has taken a lot of plaudits recently, and a lot of his substitutions have worked out brilliantly. At this crucial time of the season, he appears to have the midas touch. It’s a massive boost for TFC that they are able to host this MLS Cup Final. They've been so strong at BMO Field in recent months and the fans along with the surroundings should give them an extra boost. It looks unlikely that the coach will make any changes ahead of this final. Things have been working very well for them recently, so why change anything.
Seattle Sounders preview
There’s no doubt that the Sounders were cheering on Montreal heavily a couple of weeks ago. Had the impact prevailed then Seattle would’ve hosted this final at their magnificent CenturyLink field. That would’ve given them a significant advantage, but instead Brian Schmetzer’s men will have to do it the hard way on the road. Talking of Schmetzer, he has worked wonders with this team since taking over mid season. Nobody gave them a prayer of making the playoffs, let alone making it as far as the MLS Cup final. Of course, another major reason for their renaissance is key playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro. Since he arrived at the club he’s taken the MLS by storm and is far too good for most defenders. If they are to lift the trophy then they'll need Lodeiro to have a really big game. There’s some slight doubt over the fitness of midfielder Ozzie Alonso, but he should suit up. I’m expecting a classic 4-2-3-1 formation and the Sounders will look to hit Toronto on the break.
Conclusion & betting analysis
This is the big one. Someone will lift the MLS Cup tonight. This is a ‘one off’ fixture hosted by Toronto FC. Away goals don’t count and if the match is level after 90 mins then extra time would be played, followed by potential penalties. TFC are understandable favourites, but look a bit short around the 1.75 mark on a -0.5 Asian Handicap. For a game of this magnitude, I’d want better value in order to back them. I have to admit I personally see Toronto winning the cup, but they don’t necessarily have to do it inside 90 mins. Seattle are a good all round team. They proved during this playoff run that they can score goals, but the tight 1-0 victory against Colorado on the road proved they can defend as well. Nothing much would surprise me here and the general play of the match could go in any direction. I have been on a great betting run this season in MLS, especially during the playoffs, but I have to admit for this final I don't have any great recommendation. For the smarter punter then perhaps the best option is simply to refrain from betting and wait for an in-running chance. Pre game, I’d say the best option is over 2.5 goals around the 1.95 mark. There is enough individual talent like Giovinco, Altidore, Morris & Lodeiro to generate three goals. I wouldn’t recommend a particularly big stake though and the 1-1 scoreline is a genuine risk.
Recommended bet: None