Sounders earned home advantage
Seattle Sounders v Toronto FC
Live on Sky Sports Football
So, after so many changes, after the introduction of new teams, after the sparkling form of both Atlanta United and LAFC, we have the same two teams in MLS Cup for the third time in four years.
It's a tribute to the quality under pressure of both the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC, but more pertinently to the ability of both teams to time their runs to perfection. Peaking too soon is becoming a destructive habit in MLS.
If TFC are to win MLS Cup for the second time in three years, they'll have overcome a third consecutive road trip, and while they showed no fear at either NYCFC or Atlanta, it looks a tall order as they head to a Seattle team who won eleven games here in the regular season, and who will be roared on by 70,000 fans. The new play-off system was meant to reward regular season play, and so Seattle have earned this massive advantage in the biggest game of the season.
Since MLS Cup switched from a neutral venue in 2012, the home team have come out on top on 5 of 7 occasions, with Seattle's win on penalties in Toronto one of the outliers. Seattle are trading at 2.01/1 to win this in normal time, and given that they have won 5 of their last 6 home games, and that they beat TFC 3-2 here in the regular season, that seems more than fair.
More relevant maybe is the nature of the two sides' wins in the Conference Finals two weeks ago. Toronto were poor against Atlanta, and if Josef Martinez had scored from the spot to make it 2-0 in the first half the game would have had a different result. Seattle might have gone behind against LAFC, but outplaying the best team in MLS away from home and winning comfortably in the end was a stellar performance, and the sign of a team that is in a perfect frame of mind.
There's an argument to say that Toronto are outliers, and so unpredictable that anything might happen this weekend, but I prefer to go with cold, hard logic.
Seattle, inspired by Nico Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris, finished higher in the regular season, and have looked significantly better in the post season. They are the better side, and they're at home. It is theirs to lose, and if the Sounders play anywhere near their best, then that should be good enough. They look a bet to win it in normal time at around even money.