The 2016 MLS Cup final was set in place on Wednesday night, as Toronto FC defeated fellow Canadian side the Montreal Impact to capture the Eastern Conference title. Toronto will host the Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders on Saturday, December 10th. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 PM EST. [embedit snippet=”roy-ads”]
Seattle booked their trip to the final with a victory over the Colorado Rapids this past Sunday. This will be the first-ever MLS Cup final for both Seattle and Toronto.
Colorado and Toronto each came into the deciding second legs down on aggregate from the first match of the series, with the Rapids unable to turn their fortunes around.
Toronto FC 5 Montreal Impact 2 (7-5 aggregate)
The highest scoring playoff series in MLS history was truly one for the ages. Down 3-2 from the first match in Montreal, Toronto FC scored two goals in extra time to seal a 7-5 aggregate victory on their way to the MLS Cup final.
A steady rain and intense atmosphere made for dramatic events throughout the evening. Montreal forward Dominic Oduro opened the scoring in the 24th minute to give the visitors a two-goal cushion. The Reds answered back with goals from Armando Cooper (37’) and Jozy Altidore (45’) to even things up at 4-4 on aggregate before halftime.
Thanks to an advantage on away goals, the result would carry Toronto through at that point.
Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti (53’) put the Impact back ahead early in the second half, with Toronto defender Nick Hagglund (68’) scoring to make it 6-6 on aggregate. With away goals even as well, extra time was needed to decide the Eastern Conference champion.
Two quick goals from Toronto substitutes Benoit Cheyrou (98’) and Tosaint Ricketts (100’) in the first half of extra time were too much for Montreal to overcome, as celebrations at BMO Field ran long into the night.
Thanks to an excellent regular season record, Toronto FC earns the right to host the 2016 MLS Cup final.
Colorado Rapids 0 Seattle Sounders 1 (1-3 aggregate)
Out of the playoff picture during the summer, the dismissal of longtime head coach Sigi Schmid and health concerns ending the season early for star forward Clint Dempsey. Those were just some of the reasons why it seemed 2016 would be a disappointing campaign for the Seattle Sounders.
However, an incredible run of form late in the year culminated with a Western Conference title and their first trip to an MLS Cup final. With a 2-1 aggregate lead in hand, Seattle secured a 1-0 victory at Colorado on Sunday to capture the Western crown.
Colorado enjoyed a strong first half, pressing for the opposing goal throughout and firing 16 shots. But without finding the breakthrough, 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris put the series out of reach for the Rapids with his goal in the 56th minute.
An MLS Cup title will also qualify Seattle for the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League tournament. Due to different qualifying procedures for Canadian sides (the Voyageurs Cup), a victory for Toronto will grant New York City FC entry into the competition instead (next best regular season record).
MLS Cup 2016 preview
The MLS Cup final should feature an excellent atmosphere, as Toronto had well over 35,000 fans in attendance against Montreal on Wednesday. The weather will certainly be a factor, as game-time temperatures could plunge on the night of December 10th.
Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco was subbed off late with a leg injury Wednesday against Montreal. Depending on the nature and severity of the issue, his impact on the final will certainly be influential. The only meeting between the two clubs this season ended in a 1-1 draw on July 2nd.
With home supporters behind them, Toronto may be slightly favored, but with the current run Seattle is on, they cannot be counted out in any way.
A fantastic MLS Cup final awaits next weekend.